Atletico Madrid will warm up for their Champions League last 16 tie against Juventus by making the short trip to face Rayo Vallecano on Saturday afternoon.
Diego Simeone’s side have suffered consecutive La Liga defeats for the first time since November 2016 and must beat their relegation-threatened opponents if they are to stay in touch with the top two.
Rayo have also lost their last two matches and are one point adrift of safety at the bottom, but they will be hoping to capitalise on Atletico‘s recent malaise to achieve a surprise victory.
Check out 90min’s preview of the game below.
Where to Watch
|When is Kick Off?||Saturday 16 February|
|What Time is Kick Off?||15:15 (GMT)|
|Where is it Played?||Campo de Fútbol de Vallecas|
|TV Channel/Live Stream?||N/A|
|Referee||Jesús Gil Manzano|
Rayo Vallecano will be without former Atletico Madrid centre back Emiliano Velázquez, who has started their last eight games but picked up his fifth booking of the season – and an automatic one-match suspension – against Espanyol last week.
Gianelli Imbula was taken off after 51 minutes at the RCDE Stadium with a hip injury, so new arrival Mario Suárez could start against his old club. Gael Kakuta hasn’t played since October and Gorka Elustondo remains a long-term absentee with a cruciate ligament injury.
Atletico Madrid are facing something of an injury crisis, with Lucas Hernández ruled out due to a ligament injury. He joins Diego Costa, Koke and Stefan Savic on the treatment table.
Thomas Partey was sent off in the Madrid derby last Saturday and will be suspended for this game.
|Rayo Vallecano||Dimitrievski; Gálvez, Amat, Ba; Advincula, Suárez, Comesaña, Moreno; Embarba, de Tomás, Garcia|
|Atletico Madrid||Oblak; Arias, Godin, Giménez, Filipe Luis; Correa, Saúl Ñíguez, Rodri, Lemar; Griezmann, Morata|
Head to Head Record
Unsurprisingly, Atletico Madrid have dominated the recent history of this fixture, winning 12 out of 19 meetings between the sides in the 21st century. Six of the other seven have been draws, with Rayo Vallecano’s only win coming at home in February 2013.
The reverse fixture between the sides on matchday two back in August ended in a narrow Atletico win, with Antoine Griezmann scoring the only goal.
Rayo Vallecano may have lost their last two matches, but prior to that they went on a five-match unbeaten run, winning four of those games to briefly climb out of the relegation zone after beating Alaves on 28 January, though they are back in the bottom three now.
Atletico Madrid’s form is comparatively poor, winning just three out of eight matches in 2019. They were eliminated from the Copa del Rey on away goals after two draws against Girona, before slipping to third in La Liga with defeats against Betis and Real Madrid.
Here’s how each team has performed in their last five fixtures:
|Rayo Vallecano||Atletico Madrid|
|Espanyol 2-1 Rayo Vallecano (9/2)||Atletico Madrid 1-3 Real Madrid (9/2)|
|Rayo Vallecano 1-2 Leganes (4/2)||Betis 1-0 Atletico Madrid (3/2)|
|Alaves 0-1 Rayo Vallecano (28/1)||Atletico Madrid 2-0 Getafe (26/1)|
|Rayo Vallecano 2-2 Real Sociedad (20/1)||Huesca 0-3 Atletico Madrid (19/1)|
|Rayo Vallecano 4-2 Celta Vigo (11/1)||Atletico Madrid 3-3 Girona (16/1)|
Few teams in La Liga provide better value for money than Rayo Vallecano, whose 23 matches this season have produced 67 goals at an average of nearly three per game. They have enough attacking threat to cause Atletico problems, particularly with Lucas Hernandez injured.
On the other hand, Atletico Madrid matches are notoriously cagey affairs, and defensive discipline will be Diego Simeone’s number one priority after conceding three goals last week – the first time they have ever done so in a La Liga match at the Wanda Metropolitano.
Despite recent results, Atletico were buoyed this week by the news of Simeone extending his contract until 2022, and he should be able to celebrate with a win on Saturday.