Sports Mole previews Wednesday’s La Liga clash between Atletico Madrid and Granada, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Los Colchoneros earned a victory over Espanyol in dramatic fashion on Sunday, moving three points clear of fifth place with six games left to play as a result.
After winning the La Liga title last season, Atletico Madrid had to endure a disappointing first half to the new term, as they quickly saw their hopes of retaining the trophy dwindle and sat outside of the top four on just 39 points from 24 matches.
However, Diego Simeone‘s side have since stormed into the Champions League spots thanks to an impressive upturn in form, initially earning six consecutive league victories between late February and the beginning of April, while also progressing past Manchester United to the Champions League quarter-finals in that spell.
Los Colchoneros were eventually beaten 1-0 by strugglers Mallorca to halt their improvement following a 1-0 loss in the away leg to Manchester City, before an eventful second meeting finished in a goalless stalemate in the Spanish capital, triggering their exit on aggregate.
Upon their return to La Liga action on Sunday, Simeone’s men looked set to play out an underwhelming 1-1 draw with Espanyol, after Yannick Carrasco‘s opener was cancelled out, only for the Belgian to pop up with his second of the game in the 10th minute of added time to snatch all three points for his side.
That has seen Simeone’s men move three points ahead of fifth-placed Real Betis, and, with six league games left to play, they will aim to further boost their chances of earning a place in next season’s Champions League with another triumph on Wednesday.
They meet a Granada side involved in a heated battle at the opposite end of the La Liga table following a harmful defeat last time out.
With just one win from their last 14 outings in the Spanish top flight, the Nazaries now sit 16th, only leading the relegation zone by a single point with six games to go.
After a hard-fought 3-2 away victory over strugglers Alaves ended a 10-game winless run, Ruben Torrecilla‘s side have been unable to trigger a further rise away from the bottom three, with that triumph firstly followed by a draw with Rayo Vallecano before they suffered back-to-back defeats heading into Wednesday.
The Nazaries most recently met 19th-placed Levante on home turf, and they were handed a 4-1 thrashing, with Alex Collado‘s 92nd-minute goal nothing more than a consolation as Dani Gomez, Jose Luis Morales, Mickael Malsa and Roberto Soldado all helped themselves to goals for the visitors.
With their lead over the drop zone now slashed, Torrecilla’s men will be desperate to help their survival chances with a much-needed win, but they face a particularly tough test with a trip to the current champions.
Atletico Madrid La Liga form:
Atletico Madrid form (all competitions):
Granada La Liga form:
Atletico Madrid are without Geoffrey Kondogbia, who will serve a suspension after he was sent off in the eventual win over Espanyol.
Elsewhere, key centre-back Jose Gimenez could continue to miss out through injury, while fellow defender Felipe is also suspended after being shown a fifth league yellow card of the season last time out.
That could trigger a change in system for Simeone, with Stefan Savic and Mario Hermoso being the only senior centre-backs available, while Yannick Carrasco should earn a start on the left-hand side after his brace off the bench last time out.
Granada also have a suspension to contend with, as important centre-back German Sanchez was sent off last time out.
The Nazaries continue to rely on veteran striker Jorge Molina, who has contributed eight goals and four assists in La Liga this season, while midfielder Antonio Puertas has chipped in with a valuable tally of five league goals from midfield.
Barcelona loanee Alex Collado will be vying for a start after his goal off the bench, although he has tended to struggle fitting into their 5-3-2 system.
Atletico Madrid possible starting lineup:
Oblak; Vrsaljko, Savic, Hermoso; Llorente, Koke, De Paul, Carrasco; Lemar, Correa; Felix
Granada possible starting lineup:
Maximiano; Quini, Diaz, Duarte, Sanchez, Escudero; Puertas, Milla; Collado; Molina, Machis
We say: Atletico Madrid 3-1 Granada
The visitors are struggling for form, while Los Colchoneros have their sights set on a top-four finish, and we see Simeone’s men taking all three points on home turf.
Even with a makeshift back line, they boast a squad capable of outclassing Granada on Wednesday and should make it back-to-back league wins.