Coming off a resolute and dogged 1-0 shutdown of reigning European champions Liverpool in the midweek Champions League first leg round of 16 fixture Atletico Madrid will be looking to build on that sterling performance and maintain their top four status.
This season has largely been a disappointment in the La Liga for Los Rojibloncos. They are pretty much out of the title race after falling off the pace to runaway leaders, traditional powerhouses Real Madrid and Barcelona. They are undergoing a rather painful transition. They have lost the spine of the team that won them the league and got them to two European finals under Diego Simeone. Ageing stalwarts Gabi, Diego Godin and Juanfran have made way for younger and talented players like Joao Felix and Thomas Lemar. Blending them in seamlessly has proven more difficult than initially perceived as evidenced by their struggles particularly this season.
To compound their issues, they have been beset by a raft of injuries this season. They will be boosted by the return of striker Alvaro Morata who is available for selection. He came off the bench in their 2-2 draw at the weekend and played against Liverpool in the midweek game too. Diego Simeone is likely to restore him to the starting lineup alongside Angel Correa for this fixture.
Villarreal on their part are having a relatively good season thus far by their standards. They are in 6th place just two points off the 4th position currently occupied by their opponents Atletico Madrid. A win for them here will literally see them swapping places with Atletico on the table and will be a major boost in their quest to make a return to Europe’s premiere club competition.
They are on a four-game unbeaten run in La Liga, winning three and drawing one. Those three wins however have been against teams in the bottom half of the table.
Ruben Pena is expected to continue to fill in at left-back for Villarreal, despite Alberto Moreno getting closer to a return.
Injured: Joao Felix, Kieran Trippier, Hector Herrera, Dario Poveda and Alberto Moreno, Manu Morlanes, Soriano
This is going to be a close game. Deciding on a betting tip is not an easy task. The race for champions league position will be very much on the minds of both teams.
Atletico are pumped up after their hard-fought win over Liverpool and the momentum they have coming into this game may just be enough to not only see them win this particular match but they would hope set the tone for the remainder of the campaign.
Our predictions for the game are therefore: Atletico Win @ 1.66 and Goals Under 2.5 @ 1.75. You can find these odds and many other betting options at Betway. If you are a fan of mobile betting the Betway App offers you a splendid experience.
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