Los Colchoneros should be good enough to beat los Rojillos, who have been woeful on the road for months now...
The bright start that Atletico Madrid made to the season is now a distant memory, and as Quique Sanchez Flores’ men look to get their Primera Division campaign back on track they will be targeting three points against an Osasuna side who have been rather erratic in recent times.
Los Colchoneros lie eighth in the Primera Division, 12 points behind city-rivals and leaders Real Madrid, but after two games of the season some over-enthusiastic critics were tipping the Vicente Calderon side to challenge los Blancos and Barcelona over the course of the season. There is now no prospect of that, but the Champions League is still not out of reach should Atleti rediscover their top level.
Recent form suggests los Rojiblancos are quite some way from those dizzying heights. Over the course of their last eight Primera Division encounters, they have earned only eight points and last weekend had to suffer at the hands of los Merengues as they once again succumbed in the Derbi. Indeed, the 2-0 defeat Sanchez’s men suffered barely does justice to the servitude they were forced into for much of the match.
Against Las Palmas in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday evening, Atleti earned a 1-1 draw at home against the Segunda Division side. This was a set-back of little consequence however, as their opponents had been well beaten in the first leg and los Colchoneros ended with only 10 men, Diego Costa having been dismissed before the interval.
Flores, who rested his top players in midweek, will recall them all back into action for the fixture against los Rojillos, which is important to get their season moving in the right direction again.
Five games into the season there were real worries over the health of Jose Antonio Camacho’s Osasuna side. They had picked up only one victory, defeating Real Sociedad 3-1 at home, but more worryingly they had lost three of their other four games, failing to score in them all. However, the Pamplona outfit are now pushing steadily away from the drop zone.
One defeat in five represents real progress for the Navarre side, who have also acted to show that they are not simply a stuffy defensive outfit. After defeating Malaga 3-0 at home in mid-October, they claimed their next match at the same venue by a similar scoreline, this time besting Hercules.
Camacho’s men actually remain unbeaten at home, but on their travels the picture is not nearly so pretty. The only point they’ve earned came by way of a 0-0 draw against a Deportivo La Coruna side who were at that stage in pretty horrendous form, and a fortnight ago los Rojillos were hammered 4-1 by a modest Racing Santander side.
Renowned for producing teams who are organised and stoical, the former Spain boss must somehow integrate these characteristics into his current unit. Barely changed in the summer, Osasuna have not won an away game in league action since a 2-0 victory over Villarreal in January, and indeed they have lost 12 of their last 13 road trips in La Liga.
David de Gea and Sergio Aguero have both trained apart from the main body of players in the latter part of the week, though it is expected that both will be available for the clash against los Rojillos.
Diego Godin and Borja Gonzalez are both making positive progress as they battle back to fitness, though neither will be available at the weekend. Sergio Asenjo is another player closing in on a return to action, though the goalkeeper isn’t ready to be selected yet.
Following his midweek red card, Diego Costa will be suspended.
Javier Camunas’ hamstring injury is healing well, but not quickly enough to allow him to be considered for the weekend’s fixture. Walter Pandiani, meanwhile, faces up to a month on the sidelines because of a problem in his left thigh.