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Deportivo La Coruña
April 27, 2014
• Estadio de Mestalla, Valencia
Referee: Alberto Undiano Mallenco
• Attendance: 35000
Raúl García 43'
Full time in the Mestalla! Atletico Madrid make it nine wins in a row in the Spanish Primera Division and continue their march towards the title thanks to a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Valencia. Raul Garcia proved to be the hero in the first half when he drifted in at the back post to head over Guaita to score the only goal of the match, and what a vital one it may prove to be! Los Colchoneros move six points clear at the top of the table; the double is still on! I'm Martin Macdonald, thanks for joining us, see you next time!
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JUANFRAN IS SENT OFF!!! The Atletico Madrid right-back stops a Valencia attack with a scything challenge on the heel of Piatti, which sees the referee award him a straight red! He'll now miss the title run in!
Yellow CardEdu Vargas
Diego Simeone's heart would have been in his mouth there as Paco Alcacer ran through on goal towards Guaita, but the play was brought back by the referee after a handball from Vargas which put his team-mate through in the first place. The Chilean goes into the book for his offence.
Valencia really should be throwing everything they have at Atletico at the moment but they are looking strangely reserved as they look to chase the game for an equaliser. Atletico have been far too comfortable in the last 10 minutes or so, but still time for another goal for either side.
Yellow CardJavi Fuego
Five minutes remaining plus stoppage time at the Mestalla. This performance has summed up the attitude of Atletico so far this season; hard work, a great attitude, teamwork, and a truly unmatched level of desire. They've really dug out this one...IF they can hold on.
Diego Costa misses another sitter! Arda threads a lovely pass through the centre and the Brazilian once again finds himself one-on-one with Guaita. The Valencia 'keeper comes out on top as he doesn't allow himself to be rounded and then makes the save at the front post!
Federico Nicolás Cartabia
Another change for Los Che here as Jonas is replaced by Fede Cartabia. The former has struggled to make an impact on the game bar that decent header at he back post which was blocked by Filipe.
Arda Turan gets into a nice position just a few yards inside the Valencia box but is outnumbered and is eventually forced to slide a pass down the right for Koke, who drills a cross into the box, but the visitors eventually scramble the ball to safety.
Simeone, rather typically, is going a bit crazy on the touchline as he can feel his team are just allowing Valencia back into contention a bit too easily. Atletico have not been a team this season to buckle under pressure, but there's so much riding on these three points. Can they hold out for the win?!
Valencia are in the ascendancy here, and they'll need to capitalise quickly on their current dominance of they are to equalise. Alcacer is the latest player to have a crack at goal but his strike from the edge of the box goes high and wide, north of the crossbar.
FEGHOULIIIIII! INCHES WIDE!!! The Algerian latches on to a loose ball at the back post and cuts across the ball in midair to send a drilled volley towards goal! The attempt looks destined to nestle in the corner but just strays away at the last minute and goes wide of the mark! Atletico let off the hook!
Valencia get the opportunity to get a decent delivery into the box but it's majorly disappointing from Feghouli and the set-piece goes straight down the throat of the grateful Courtois.
Yellow CardDiego Godín
Diego Costa breaks free down the middle and it looks like a pretty promising Atletico attack, but any potential threat is negated by the home side as Alcacer retreats to completely take out the Spain international by tripping him up. No idea how the Valencia striker has escaped a booking for that.
Diego Simeone adds some more fresh legs to proceedings here as the goalscorer, Raul Garcia, is replaced by Jose Sosa.
If Atletico can manage to hold on here, they go six points clear of Real Madrid, and even though Los Blancos have a game in hand, the psychological edge may just be with the Vicente Calderon side heading into the final games.
Less than half an hour left on the clock, with Atletico still looking solid and on course to another important three points. Filipe Luis is forced to make a good block at the back post to deny a Jonas header, before Atleti break upfield with Gabi playing Arda in behind. The Turkey international is robbed of the ball briefly by Mathieu, before the covering Ricardo Costa clears the danger.
Pizzi follows suit and makes another change of his own as Antonio Barragan, who had a bright first half but who has drifted out of proceedings, is replaced by Sofiane Feghouli, who'll just add a little more craft out on the right-hand side.
Villa parks himself on the bench but just grimaces as he clutches his knee. A possible injury concern for Atletico ahead of the Chelsea match this week perhaps?
Diego Simeone makes his first change of the match and introduces Arda Turan in place of David Villa, who walks off the pitch to a rousing applause from the Mestalla crowd. He scored 75 goals for Valencia, so it's nice to see his efforts are still appreciated.
The ball breaks kindly to Jonas the edge of the box and the Brazilian flashes a volley into the box that is blocked by Tiago. The Mestalla crowd rise from their seats and demand a penalty kick but it looked as if the attempt hit the chest of the Portuguese. The referee shares this view and waves play on.
David Villa looks to initiate an Atletico counterattack through the middle after a Valencia attack breaks down, but the former Barcelona striker is cynically tripped up by Gaya, who's lucky to escape a booking.
An early change from Juan Antonio Pizzi and it's an interesting one as Dani Parejo is replaced by Eduardo Vargas, who'll certainly add a little more pace and guile to the Valencia attack.
What a miss from Diego Costa! Atletico's top goalscorer latches on to a mistake at the back from Valencia and goes one-on-one with Guaita, but tries to be too clever and attempts to nutmeg the goalkeeper, who remains big to make a solid save! A GOLDEN opportunity passed up!
David Villa glides down the right wing and looks to nutmeg Gaya to shift inside, but the full-back keeps his wits about him and stands tall to win the ball back just inside the Valencia half.
It'll be interesting to see how Atletico approach this second half. With such an important game coming up against Chelsea, will they look to save their legs and consolidate what they have, or go for the jugular and try a and grab a couple more goals.
We are back under way at the Mestalla!
Half time in the Mestalla. A solitary goal at the end of the first half from Raul Garcia is the difference between Valencia and Atletico Madrid so far in this tightly contested Spanish Primera Division clash. Not a lot of goalmouth action to speak of bar the goal itself, but Los Che will need to press a little more now that they need to claw back a deficit. Atletico lead by one at the break.
The Valencia defence hardly covered themselves in glory there! Gaya, Mathieu, and Guaita all left the cross to each other to deal with!
GOOOOOAAAALLLLL GOOOAAAALLLL GOOOAALLLLL!!! RAUL GARCIA IS THE MAN WHO BREAKS THE DEADLOCK! Gabi clips a precision cross into the box and the former Mallorca midfielder bravely rises high to dink a header over the oncoming Guaita! One-nil Atletico!
Can anyone grab a vital goal before half time?!
The way this match is going, it may be decided by either a moment of brilliant or a bad mistake. There's just nothing between the two sides currently, so it's tough to see where the opening goal is going to come from. Certainly some players out there capable of breaking the deadlock though.
Another speculative effort from Valencia sees Piatti collect the ball in a decent position a yard or two onto the box before dragging a shot towards goal. It's a relatively easy save for Courtois though, who gets down to get his body behind the ball.
The first yellow card of the match goes to Jonas, and it is for a pretty petulant kick out of the park after a foul was given against Pereira. Daft reason to go into the book really, and now he'll have to be careful for an hour or so.
Kokeeeee! Atletico go close again! Diego Costa does brilliantly to ride the challenge of Mathieu down the right wing before squaring inside to his team-mate, who awkwardly hits a bouncing shot into the ground that loops over the bar! A real chance passed up there!
Somehow Ricardo Costa gets away with putting Diego Costa in a wrestling sleeper hold in the middle of the park. The Spain international didn't take too kindly to it and squares up the Valencia defender. You wouldn't want to try to get between those two!
Koke floats a free kick into the box and there's all sorts of pushing and shoving going on. In the end the referee calls for a foul in favour of Valencia as Godin ushers Ricardo Costa to the ground, who's then involved in an almighty collision with Diego Costa. Can't fault the players for desire! Free kick to the hosts.
Atletico with a decent double chance. The ball is swung into the box and Diego Costa hits a fresh air shot, but the ball luckily finds Filipe Luis. The Brazilian drills a half volley towards the bottom corner but the attempt takes a deflection on it's way through and Los Colchoneros get the corner kick.
Halfway through the first half and it's been a rather tepid affair so far. A real lack of intensity from both sides, who look slightly fatigued. Hopefully the players are just adapting to the tempo.
A small break in play at the moment as David Villa is currently down injured after receives a late blow to the leg from Mathieu. It wasn't particularly malicious, but it was a nasty tackle nonetheless. Atletico get the free kick just inside the Valencia half.
Jonas drifts out to the wing from his position in the centre and looks to skip past Juanfran, but the Atleti right-back comes in with a solid challenge to claw possession back for the visitors. The Brazilian is struggling to find space amongst the Atletico defenders and midfielders, so he is being forced wide to see the ball.
Los Che have enjoyed the majority of possession so far, and Atletico look as if they could be dangerous on the counterattack but neither Courtois nor Guaita have been truly tested as of yet. Most of the play is going down the flanks away from goal.
Really good play again from Barragan. This time he delightfully flicks the ball over the oncoming Godin and drives into the box, but he just takes an unfortunate heavy touch which sees it go out for a goal kick. The Valencia man has been the most dangerous player so far.
Pereira does see the ball this time, though, and looks to burst past Tiago on the right wing, only to be bundled over by the Portuguese midfielder. Valencia get he free kick in a very useful position on the flank. Let's see if they can make anything from this.
Parejo receives the ball to feet in the inside left channel and attempts an ambitious pass over the top of the Atletico defence for the oncoming Pereira, but he just puts too much on the ball and it floats out for a goal kick. Decent idea but the execution was lacking.
David Villaaaaaa!! How close was that?! The World Cup winner turns back the years as he picks up the ball on the left-hand side before shifting on to his right foot and whipping a strike towards the far corner. It goes a yard wide but Guaita was certainly scrambling across!
A superb atmosphere in the Mestalla as always, and it does look to have had a slight effect on Atletico in the opening stages. It's just taking them a little time to find their feet as they sit pretty deep in their own half.
Godin proactively comes out of his defensive position to steal the ball away from the feet of Parejo, which he does, but then just takes a nasty blow to the shin from the Valencia midfielder. He's down for the moment but shouldn't be too long before he pops back up.
It's an interesting selection from Pizzi to select Barragan at right wing. Perhaps it will be to negate the threat of the overlapping Filipe, but the Valencia man hasn't needed to defend too much so far; he's been hitting the byline and whipping crosses in!
Decent start from the hosts here. Gaya and Joao Pereira have seen plenty of the ball so far on on the wings and the likes of Diego Costa and David Villa have not got into the match so far for Atletico.
That's terrific work from Barragan. The Valencia winger, who normally features as a right-back, makes up the ground tremendously and busts a gut to the byline before digging out a cross that is turned behind for a corner. He didn't have any right to reach that ball!
ALCACER!! That wasn't too far away! The 20-year-old receives the ball to feet just outside the box and quickly swivels before lashing a strike towards the bottom corner, but it goes just a yard wide of the post!
We are under way in the Mestalla!
Atletico will of course be looking to top goalscorer, Diego Costa, for inspiration here. The newly capped Spain international is still in the race for the Pichichi and is currently on 27 goals, three behind Cristiano Ronaldo.
Valencia are coming off a potentially damaging 2-0 defeat against Sevilla in the Europa League on Thursday, but will need to adjust their mindset back to league duties as they look to derail Atletico's title charge.
The last two clashes between Valencia and Atletico came in the Copa del Rey in the last-16. Simeone's outfit progressed thanks to a 3-1 aggregate victory over the two legs.
David Villa has been selected up top alongside Diego Costa for Atleti, which will mean a slightly deeper role for Raul Garcia, who'll more than likely be deployed down the right-hand side. Gabi, Koke, and Tiago make up the rest of the midfield.
Valencia will be buoyed by the fact that Ricardo Costa has managed to recover from an ankle knock, and starts next to Jeremy Mathieu in the centre of defence.
Atletico (4-4-2): Courtois; Juanfran, Miranda, Godin, Filipe Luis; Tiago, Gabi, Koke, Raul Garcia; David Villa, Diego Costa.
Valencia (4-2-3-1): Guaita; J.Pereira, R.Costa, Mathieu; Gaya; Fuego, Parejo; Barragan, Jonas, Piatti; Alcacer.
Los Che's squad may have changed significantly since then, but the Mestalla crowd are sure to create a vibrant and hostile atmosphere for the league leaders.
However, they travel to the Mestalla today knowing that on their last visit to Valencia in the league, they were defeated 2-0 thanks to goals from Roberto Soldado and Nelson Valdez.
Los Colchoneros are in excelllent domestic form heading into the match today. They have won eight matches on the bounce, conceding just one goal in the process.
The capital club are still on course for a historic double, and face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday in the Champions League semi-final.
Diego Simeone's men have the opportunity today to move six points clear from Real Madrid at the top of La Liga with a victory over Los Che, who still harbour hopes of clinching a Europa League spot.
I'm Martin Macdonald, and I'll be taking you through the action!
Good afternoon football fans! Welcome to LIVE coverage of the Spanish Primera Division clash between Valencia and Atletico Madrid from the Mestalla!
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