Atletico Quality To Shine Through v VillarrealStats
Atletico Madrid v Villarreal
Champions Atletico Madrid entertain Villarreal on Sunday in what looks to be a cracking La Liga clash between two teams with the bit between their teeth at the moment.
A scoreless draw against Juventus in Turin was a good result for Atletico Madrid in midweek as last season’s beaten finalists ensured they topped their Champions League group and will go into the last 16 as seeds.
That result did bring an end to a run of five wins on the spin for Diego Simeone’s side although his charges haven’t conceded a goal in any of their last five either. Their results have been good for quite some time though as they’ve lost only twice and won 13 of their past 16 overall and sit four points off city rivals Real at the top of La Liga going into this weekend’s fixtures.
Croatian striker Mario Mandzukic has proved a fine replacement for the departed Diego Costa so far, top scoring for the club with six goals in both the league and in Europe.
Villarreal also progressed to the latter stages in European competition this week, albeit in second spot in their group, nonetheless Marcelino’s side reached the knockout rounds of the Europa League after their 2-0 win over Apoel Limassol. The Yellow Submarine have also moved into the top six domestically, although they are already eight adrift of Atletico and 12 behind the leaders, despite three La Liga wins on the bounce and an unbeaten run stretching back seven games overall.
They hammered David Moyes’ Real Soceidad 4-0 in La Liga last weekend with substitute Moises Gomes scoring twice off the bench to move him level with Luciano Vietto and Ikechukwu Uche on the top of their scoring charts with four league goals apiece.
Simeone could be without two defenders with Brazilian centre back Miranda doubtful with a knock while full-back Cristian Ansaldi has already been ruled out until the new year with a knee problem.
Midfielder Cani and forward Giovani dos Santos are both expected to miss out for Villarreal with defender Mateo Musachhio sidelined with a thigh problem and long term absentees Hernan Perez and Bojan Jokic unlikely to return until 2015.
Atletico have won four of the past five meetings, with midfielder Raul Garcia scoring the only goal of the game in this fixture last season,
…although Villarreal had won four on the spin prior to that series of results.
There have been only four goals scored in the past three clashes with the Madrid side keeping clean sheets in three of the past four. Atletico hold a narrow edge over the years in this fixture too with 11 wins to nine.
Despite both sides coming into this game in a rich vein of form, it’s hard to look beyond the reigning champions to win at 4/6 as they’ve begun to look more like the hugely impressive outfit from last term of late and simply boast more quality throughout their side.
The 17/10 on Atletico to win without conceding a goal also looks to be great value given their dogged defence and the visitors’ problems scoring in this fixture in recent seasons, so the bigger rewards offered than the 6/4 on Simeone’s men to win at half-time and full-time could prove worth the added gamble.