Atletico Madrid overcame an injury crisis to end their struggles and finally pick up a league win over Granada on the weekend, however a tough trip to the Mestalla awaits Diego Simeone’s side.
Valencia v Atletico Madrid – La Liga
Kick Off: 20:00
TV Channel: La Liga TV
The race for the Champions League spots is hotting up in La Liga, and with surprise package Getafe facing Barcelona on Saturday, Friday night’s offering from Mestalla will offer both sides an opportunity to close the gap to those ahead of them.
Atletico were able to arrest their struggles in the league and cup last weekend as they overcame Granada 1-0, courtesy of Angel Correa’s sixth minute opener, and it was representative of a classic Simeone performance. His side shut out the opposition after netting the early goal, and looked to hit Granada on the break, alleviating the injury concerns they had, and lack of available presence up front in the shape of a target man.
However, coming up against fellow European rivals Valencia, Simeone may have his work cut out trying to break down Albert Celades’ side, and with both sides having massive Champions League clashes to look forward to during the week, how either side adapt to this awaits to be seen.
Both sides have injury and suspension worries, and in an ideal world would’ve loved to have an easier clash than this to contend with on Friday night, and it could see some slight tactical tweaks from both managers, as well as a very cautious approach, as it represents a must not lose game for both, rather than that of a must win.
Daniel Wass is expected to return to right back with Alessandro Florenzi suspended for Valencia, and he will be tasked with potentially stopping the returning Yannick Carrasco, who will be keen to make an impact and stake his claim for a spot in the Atletico side ahead of the midweek clash with Liverpool. This could see either Saul Niguez or Koke rested, and how heavy the rotation is from Simeone awaits to be seen, especially with Sevilla and Getafe among those breathing down their necks for a top four spot.
Ten-man Valencia fell to a disappointing 3-0 defeat away at Getafe last weekend, and after picking up a win over Barcelona earlier in January, it was a particularly damaging result, and will have impacted on their confidence. However, with competition increasing for places ahead of the midweek clash with Atalanta, a number of Valencia players will be looking to stake a claim for a start, and it will be interesting to see how Celades lines his side up
Conceding 22 shots and not able to muster a shot on target themselves, it was a worrying performance from Valencia, and they will be keen to respond of their home crowd, and look to close the gap to fourth place Atletico Madrid. Dani Parejo will be crucial to their chances from the middle of midfield, improvements at the back are required after the weekend’s disappointment.
It has the potential to be a fascinating, yet tight, clash on Friday night, and opens up some interesting betting angles.
Alessandro Florenzi and Ferran Torres are suspended for Valencia, whilst Cristiano Piccini, Ezequiel Garay, Manu Vallejo and Kevin Gameiro are injured.
Atletico Madrid are a team riddled with injuries, and Diego Costa, Jose Gimenez, Kieran Trippier, Santiago Arias, Joao Felix and Alvaro Morata are expected to miss out.
Head to Head:
Valencia Wins: 20
Atletico Madrid Wins: 20
Valencia are without a win in their last ten against Atletico Madrid
Valencia have won their last three home La Liga games
Atletico have lost just one of their last five Friday La Liga games
Valencia: W W W L L
Atletico Madrid: L L D L W
Considering the underlying statistics of both sides, both attacking and defensively, it is the unders markets that appeal on this clash. The market understandably making it hard to split the two sides in this games, and Atletico will be looking to sit in and soak up large volumes of pressure. Looking to hit Valencia on the break, they will pose a threat, but the lack of a proven goalscorer is worrying, and coupled with Valencia’s own trouble creating last weekend, Under 2.5 goals (4/7) is appealing.
With the two sides hard to split, I will be sitting on the fence for this game, and fancying the draw at 21/10. Both sides have injury worries, and with a Champions League game next week to contend with, it makes for an interesting tie to unpick. I see both sides going for a cautious approach, and the cards potentially racking up in a tight, tactical battle. An outside bet on 1-1 is also appealing at 11/2, as the two giants clash on Friday.