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Primera División

  • February 19, 2011
  • • 21:00
  • • Estadio de la Romareda, Zaragoza
  • Referee: Carlos Delgado Ferreiro
  • • Attendance: 18000
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La Liga Preview: Zaragoza - Atletico Madrid

La Liga Preview: Zaragoza - Atletico Madrid

Los Manos will attempt to worsen Atleti’s crisis...


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The War Continues

At the winter break last season, Zaragoza looked a side dead and buried, consigned to the Segunda Division for at least one season after a poor start to a top flight campaign, yet they recovered impressively to dodge the drop. This term, they are attempting to perform a similar escape act and have started 2011 with a good deal of promise.

Over the course of their first seven Primera Division matches, they’ve earned four victories, not only steering them off the bottom of the table, but also away from the relegation zone, at least for the time being.

“We lost a battle but the war continues,” Mexican coach Javier Aguirre mused after last weekend’s 2-1 reverse against Hercules – only the second time since the turn of the year that los Manos have tasted defeat.

Aguirre, a former Atletico Madrid boss, may have taken his time to turn Zaragoza around, but the Aragon side have been taking positive strides in recent weeks, winning three of their last four home games. Injuries and suspensions offer problems that have to be overcome for the weekend, but this is a club used to rising to the most demanding of challenges when hope seems lost.

Quique Under Pressue

Atletico Madrid are a club on the verge of a full-blown crisis. Since the turn of the year, they’ve won only one Primera Division fixture, and worse, they’ve lost all of their last four games, scoring only one goal in the process. Coach Quique Sanchez Flores finds his head in a very precarious position, and another loss in Zaragoza could be the end.

At this stage in the 1999-2000 season, which so spectacularly ended in relegation for los Colchoneros, they had 29 points; this season they command only 30. Panic is starting to set into the Madrid outfit, and after a string of disappointments it’s little wonder their fans are so fraught with anxiety.

“We feel we have to win, we do not value the option of the coach not being with us, because he has given us two titles and although we have not done well, we have overcome adversity. Now we need to be closer together than ever,” club captain Antonio Lopez told the media.

“The team's image has not been all bad, but there is no use complaining and all we can do is to keep working to pull this off. To get around this, work, work, work, is what we need to be doing.”

Atleti certainly have quality in their ranks, but it has too frequently gone missing over the course of this campaign. January has seen the club stripped of more assets and as new signings struggle to bed in, the noxious atmosphere surrounding the team is only serving to poison them further.


TEAM NEWS

Zaragoza


Angel Lafita will be out for several weeks with a knee problem, and stunting the creativity of the home side further is a suspension to Ander Herrera. Ivan Obradovic has overcome a head knock and will play without a problem.

Atletico

David de Gea and Sergio Aguero have both had training ground scares this week, but both will be fine for the weekend. Filipe will probably continue to miss out.

Diego Godin is banned after being dismissed last weekend, and Alvaro Dominguez and Elias have both been tipped for starting roles.

Players to watch

S. Boutahar

Position: Midfielder

Games: 0

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Said Boutahar is a player who has suddenly found space in the starting XI under Javier Aguirre, and the 28-year-old midfielder is revelling in his recall to the spotlight. After barely featuring in the early stages of the campaign, the Dutchman has featured from the outset in four of Zaragoza’s last five matches, providing them with real impetus down the flank and weighing in with a couple of goals.

D. Forlán

Position: Attacker

Games: 0

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The Diego Forlan of Atletico Madrid this season is not the Diego Forlan of old, and the Uruguayan needs to lift himself out of his current slump if his side are to start enjoying any kind of positive run. Missed a penalty in last weekend’s loss at home to Valencia and has struggled in front of goal all season after such a good World Cup.

Editor's Prediction

Atletico Madrid have to respond at some point, and Saturday’s as good a time as any for los Colchoneros to get back up and running. Zaragoza may be improving, but they’re not a dominant force, and a draw would probably be seen as acceptable by both sides.

Last Five Matches

Head To Head

Real Zaragoza

Atlético Madrid

Wins
1
0
4
Wins

Betting & Predictions

Reader's Predictions

Real Zaragoza ZAR
Real Zaragoza Real Zaragoza
Draw
Club Atlético de Madrid ATM
Club Atlético de Madrid Atlético Madrid
23%
15%
62%

Top 3 Predictions

Real Zaragoza ZAR
1 - 2
Club Atlético de Madrid ATM
Real Zaragoza ZAR
0 - 2
Club Atlético de Madrid ATM
Real Zaragoza ZAR
0 - 1
Club Atlético de Madrid ATM

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