Atletico Madrid - Espanyol Preview: Diego Simeone's side look to continue their imperious home form in pursuit of a top-four finish
Atleti welcome Mauricio Pochettino's side to the Vincente Calderon as both sides, level on points, look to challenge for a place in the Champions League next season
By Daniel Quinton-Navarro
Juanfran, Miranda, Godin, Filipe
Adrian, Diego, Turan
Lopez, Rodriguez, Moreno, Didac
Garcia, Verdu, Coutinho
Atletico Madrid seized control of their Europa League semi-final against Valencia on Thursday night, but with the capital club pursuing a top four finish, Diego Simeone is unlikely to rotate his squad ahead of the return leg.
Influential defender Diego Godin returns to the fold after missing the Europa League tie through suspension and is likely to replace Alvaro Dominguez who picked up a knock this week. Silvio and Antonio Lopez, meanwhile, continue their rehabilitation as they approach match fitness, following an extensive period out of action through injury.
Espanyol ended a baron run of five consecutive matches without a win with a thumping 4-0 victory over a lacklustre Valencia to reignite their own challenge for the European spots, moving to within six points of fourth placed Malaga.
Mauricio Pochettino can welcome back Philippe Coutinho and Juan Forlin from suspension for the visit to the Vincente Calderon, whilst the robust Romaric could be preferred in central midfield to add an extra physical presence. Vladimir Weiss may have to be content with a spot on the bench with Sergio Garica, Joan Verdu and Kalu Uche all playing a vital part against Valencia.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Atletico Madrid and Espanyol are level on points in La Liga, with the Barcelona-based outfit ahead because of a superior head-to-head record, achieved on the back of a 4-2 win in the reverse fixture.
- Atleti have only lost to Real Madrid and Barcelona at the Vicente Calderon in 2012.
- Diego Simeone's side have been heavily reliant on Radamel Falcao (pictured) this season. The Columbian striker has netted 22 goals in La Liga since his €40million move from Porto, 50% of their total tally.
- Espanyol have failed to win any of their last seven league games away from home.
- The Catalans have amassed the fewest away goals of any side in the top half of the table, alongside Osasuna.
- Fourth-placed Malaga are just six points clear of Sevilla who occupy 11th in La Liga, Espanyol and Atleti are also locked on 45 points.
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Top 3 Predictions
Atletico Madrid 2-1 Espanyol
- 19.42 %
Atletico Madrid 2-0 Espanyol
- 17.36 %
Atletico Madrid 3-1 Espanyol
- 11.16 %
|Spain - Primera Division (LIGA)||Oct 19, 2013||Espanyol 1 - Atletico Madrid 0|
|Spain - Primera Division (LIGA)||Feb 24, 2013||Atletico Madrid 1 - Espanyol 0|
|Spain - Primera Division (LIGA)||Sep 30, 2012||Espanyol 0 - Atletico Madrid 1|
|Spain - Primera Division (LIGA)||Apr 22, 2012||Atletico Madrid 3 - Espanyol 1|
|Spain - Primera Division (LIGA)||Dec 11, 2011||Espanyol 4 - Atletico Madrid 2|
|Dec 11, 2013||Atletico Madrid 2 - Porto 0||UCL|
|Dec 7, 2013||UE Sant Andreu 0 - Atletico Madrid 4||ESPC|
|Nov 30, 2013||Elche 0 - Atletico Madrid 2||LIGA|
|Nov 26, 2013||Zenit Saint Petersburg 1 - Atletico Madrid 1||UCL|
|Nov 23, 2013||Atletico Madrid 7 - Getafe 0||LIGA|
|16||Javier López Rodríguez||Defender|
|26||Víctor Sánchez Mata||Midfielder|
Who else could it be? The Colombian has been in superb form this season and Simeone will be hopeful he can add to his 22 La Liga strikes against Espanyol, however, it is important to remember the supply and as such players like Suarez and Diego will be key to unlocking Espanyol's defence.
Expected to come back into the Starting XI Coutinho will have to be at his creative best if Espanyol are going to be able to take anything from this match.
With the competition for a Champions League reaching boiling point Atleti will be aware of their head-to-head record with clubs around them, which could make this a more expansive tie considering the compactness of the table. Espanyol's poor away form, paired with Atleti's supreme home record, should lead to a victory for Diego Simeone's side, but by how many could be key come the end of the season.
Times In BST
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed