Los Colchoneros meet Los Nervionenses in the battle for a European place on Saturday evening.
Need To Find Form.... And Fast
Atletico Madrid haven’t been enjoying the best of weeks. After a period where the club confirmed huge debts, and Argentine legend Diego Maradona announced that he could see his son-in-law Sergio Aguero exiting the Vicente Calderon soon, it’s imperative that Quique Sanchez Flores and his men look to end the distraction off the field, and gain some momentum on it.
After four straight defeats was ended with a 1-0 win last weekend away to Real Zaragoza, Atletico will look to string two wins together for the first time since Christmas. The start of the year has seen them win only once, to Mallorca and suffer a run of defeats, not least being knocked out of the Copa Del Rey against Real Madrid. This same period has seen Atleti drop out of contention for the European places and starting to slide towards the bottom half, which was stemmed by last week’s much-needed victory – not a place where the outgoing Europa League holders would want to be.
With no distractions from Europe or Copa Del Rey duty, the remaining 14 games of the season should see them climb up the table and finally find some form towards the end of the season. All the remaining games with the exception of Real Madrid and perhaps high-flying Villarreal to come next month, look winnable on paper. Should they fail, Maradona’s words may prove to become true.
Continental qualification, the aim for Sevilla
Los Nervionenses bowed out of the Europa League on Wednesday night despite recording an impressive 1-0 win in Porto, yet the damage had been done in a poor first leg which led to their away goal defeat. Sevilla were on the back foot for most of the game, yet still found chances to break Porto’s dominance, something which must happen in La Liga if they are to taste continental football next season.
Their league form mirrors that of Atletico Madrid with only one win in their last five outings. They laboured to a 1-0 victory over Hercules last weekend courtesy of new boy Ivan Rakitic. It was their first win in six matches in all competitions and they don’t want to repeat that against Atletico.
Only three points behind the Europa League spots, Sevilla could put a bit of daylight between them and Quique Sanchez Flores’ side and continue to secure a place in Europe next season. They too have problems off the field with the hierarchy getting impatient with Gregorio Manzano, ironically they want Atletico’s Flores to replace him. A defeat may spell the end for Manzano.
Diego Forlan is rated doubtful for Saturday’s clash as he continues to recover from a sprained ankle. New signing Elias Mendes is available for Los Colchoneros whilst Diego Godin has recovered and Mario Suarez returns from suspension.
Ivorian midfielder Romaric has trained on Thursday after the Europa League exit and is marked as available for the game against Atletico. Martin Caceres is recovering as he overcomes an adductor problem. Andres Palop is also expected to pass a late fitness test.