Hungry Atleti Too Strong For Galicians
Celta Vigo v Atletico Madrid
Defending La Liga champions Atletico Madrid take on mid-table Celta Vigo on Sunday night with the visitors now firmly back in the title race.
A pair of wins, draws and losses from their last six games quite neatly sums up Celta Vigo’s reasonable but hardly inspiring performances for the season overall. After starting their campaign well before suffering an alarming slip which saw them lose eight and win just one game up until mid-January Eduardo Berizzo’s side now appear to have found their level and although they lie comfortably in tenth spot, they also remain just six points outside the relegation places.
Joaquin Larrivey and Nolito are their side’s top scorer this season with seven league goals apiece, with the latter grabbing a late equaliser last weekend away to David Moyes’ Real Sociedad as they left San Sebastian with valuable point.
A stunning 4-0 thrashing of bitter rivals and league leaders Real last weekend has made things far more interesting for third-placed Ateltico Madrid and neutrals alike as the gap has now been narrowed to just four points between the clubs from the Spanish capital with Barcelona sandwiched between the two, just a point off the top spot. Diego Simeone’s charges have only been beaten by Barcelona – albeit three times , with two of those coming in the Copa del Rey – in their last 12 games and scored 12 times in their last four and have looked far more potent in recent weeks.
Antoine Griezmann and Mario Mandzukic are separated by only one goal this season with the French international ahead by one on 12 league goals while Croation striker Mandzukic has scored three times in has last two appearances.
Celta midfielder Nemanja Radoja is a doubt for the hosts with the Serb suffering from a groin problem while club captain Borja Oubina remains sidelined with a serious knee injury while full-back Hugo Mallo is also expected to miss out.
Simeone looks set to do some major re-shuffling in midfield as both Arda Turan and Raul Garcia are suspended for the games after both picked up needless bookings against Real for arguing with the referee. Playmaker Koke had been taken off early in that game with a hamstring problem too and is expected to be out for a month while his replacement last weekend, Saul Niguez, is also doubtful after himself having to be taken off with a knee problem.
Head to Head
Celta came away from the Vicente Calderon with a precious point earlier this season after a 2-2 draw in Madrid back in September.
That said, they’ve lost each of their last three at the Balaidos against these opponents and had been defeated five times on the spin in total to Atleti before that result.
There hasn’t been a draw between these teams in the Spanish top flight since 2003.
Their incredible win over Real last weekend will count for nothing if Atletico fail to do the same this time around and Simeone will make his players very clear of that fact so expect a hungry visiting side to take all three points here at 21/20. Griezmann looks a great punt at 7/5 to score anytime or 9/2 to bag the first while an away win with over 2.5 goals in the match also looks a fantastic price at 11/4.