Athletic Club - Atletico Madrid: Visitors hoping to climb to first

Athletic will welcome Atletico Madrid on Wednesday at the San Mames. The home side will want to aim for a late chance of reaching the Champions League qualification position. Atletico will want to keep their form up and go to first place in the league.

Athletic Club - Atletico Madrid: Visitors hoping to climb to first
Athletic Club vs Atletico Madird | Photo: Vavel UK

The reverse fixture at the Estadio Vicente Calderon ended in a 2-1 win for Atletico Madrid against Athletic Club. The away side took the lead in the first half when Aymeric Laporte netted in from three yards after a corner kick.

Atletico, though, equalised in the first half during stoppage time through a Saul Niguez header just before second half helped the home side to get back on track.

Attacker Antoine Griezmann gave Atletico all three points half way through the second half. The French international scored a superb winner from 20 yards. 

Form

Athletic Club have had a decent run in the past few games or so, with their home form being fantastic with only three defeats in 16 games this season. Athletic Club picked up a vital win on the weekend away to Malaga. And thanks to a Raul Garcia header the side are now sitting in fifth place six points behind Villarreal.

The Basque side will want to play in an a European competition again next season and will want to pick up all three points at home to Atletico. Athletic’s key player will be Raul Garcia, the midfielder who has five goals six assists to his name during his first season at the club.

It will be an emotional game for the Spaniard. Garcia played for Atletico Madrid for around eight years and will be looking to get some revenge after Atletico took all three points from the last battle. Athletic will be without Aymeric Laporte and Aritz Aduriz so it will definitely be a tough game for them.

Atletico Madrid have been fantastic this season, Diego Simeone’s side is expecting to aim for success in the La Liga and the Champions League too. Atletico have the best away record in the La Liga so far this season, picking up 37 points out of a possible 51.

They have also only conceded 16 goals in 33 matches, which makes them the best defensive unit in La Liga. Atletico have been on fine form this campaign, currently on level with league leaders Barcelona and Simeone will want to complete a solid win at San Mames to carry on with the race for the league title.

Atletico’s key player will definitely be Antoine Griezmann. The Frenchman has been fantastic this season and a great player to watch. He has 20 goals and four assists to his name, with seven Man of the Match awards included in his profile this season too. He is the club’s top goal scorer and will be looking to carry his form on with just a few games in the league remaining.

Atletico's top goal scorer Antoine Griezmann and Torres | Photo: Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images Sport
Atletico's top goal scorer Antoine Griezmann and Torres | Photo: Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images Sport

Team News

Ernesto Valverde’s side will be expected to play in a 4-2-3-1 formation, even with a few key players out for more or less the rest of the season. Aymeric Laporte is still out after suffering a broken leg last month. Top goal scorer Aritz Aduriz picked up an injury during the Europa League match versus Sevilla and will be out for another two weeks according to reports.

Inaki Williams who picked up a hamstring injury ten days ago, is expected to be able to play on Wednesday in the central forward role. But if Inaki doesn’t make it, Borja Viguera will start up top as the lone striker. Whilst Sabin Merino seems like he won’t be returning from injury until the middle of next month who sustained a hamstring injury.

Athletic’s predicted line-up (4-2-3-1): Iraizoz, De Marcos, Etxeita, Gurpegi, Balenziaga, San Jose, Benat, Susaeta, Raul Garcia, Muniain, Williams.

Diego Simeone’s side will carry on playing in their 4-4-2 formation, with not many players out for the away side. Filipe Luis returns after completing his ban and will most likely feature in the starting line-up in the left-back position.

With Gabi missing the game due to suspension, Saul Nigez will most likely come in and replace him in the centre of midfield. Jose Maria Gimenez, who was out with a hamstring injury, has returned to training, but isn’t expected to return into the team very quickly. Also Tiago has recovered from a broken leg, but will take some time in training to get back to full fitness.

Atletico’s predicted line-up (4-4-2): Oblak, Juanfran, Hernandez, Godin, Filipe Luiz, Koke, Saul, Fernandez, Carrasco, Torres, Griezmann.

What to expect

The game will definitely be a close one, with both sides aiming to end the season on a high note. Atletico should take all three points on Wednesday, especially with a few key players out for the Athletic.

Atletico snatching a 2-1 win away at the San Mames would be an expected result. Athletic haven’t lost at home since the Basque derby which was back in February. Big game for both La Liga sides.