Atletico Madrid vs Granada
The La Liga table doesn’t make good reading for the red side of Madrid; with 16 games to play Atletico are 13 points behind the current leaders…Real Madrid.
That must really stick in the craw for Atleti fans, after lauding it over their more illustrious rivals, for a couple of years; they are well and truly looking upwards again. Here in the SBOTOP football team we expected a closer run in Madrid, and the pre-season La Liga 2020 predictions were split between Diego Simeone’s Atleti and Los Blancos.
Zinedine Zidane had recently returned to the Bernabeu to try to rescue a club in turmoil, with player dissent to deal with, while Simeone had seeming moved quickly to replace the departed Antoine Griezmann with Joao Felix. But six months is a long time in football and while Real Madrid are now favourites to lift La Liga, Atletico can’t buy a win.
So when Diego Martinez brings his Granada to the Wanda Metropolitano this weekend, Atletico will set about the Andalusians with real purpose, otherwise there will be some very unhappy people in Madrid on Monday morning.
You have to say this is a must win game for Atleti. Granada have failed to beat Los Rojiblancos in 17 attempts in all competitions in this millennium
Atleti looking for a spark
After pushing Barcelona for the title over the last two seasons, this term is in danger of fizzling out for Los Rojiblancos if they can’t find a spark pretty soon. They are without a win in four and were well beaten in the Madrid Derby last week. While Simeone’s side put up a good fight in the first half they were totally outplayed in the second, and were rather flattered by the 1-0 score line in the end.
Joao Felix was brought in with great expectations but he has struggled to make an impact and needs time, and while Alvaro Morata is leading the attack he isn’t Griezmann. So Simeone moved in the January transfer window to bring winger Yannick Carrasco back to the club from Chinese outfit Dalian Yifang. The Belgian international arrived on a loan deal with an option to buy, and he’ll be welcomed back by Atleti fans, having scored 17 goals form 81 appearances in his previous stint at the Wanda Metropolitano.
He came off the bench to replace Vitolo late in the Madrid derby and could make a start against Granada.
Atleti’s defence is still working well. No team has conceded fewer goals at home in La Liga, but they will be without wing back Kieran Trippier who has just undergone successful groin surgery. Simeone hopes he will be back in training quickly, and maybe in time to play a part in the Champions League.
Los Rojiblancos have a tough job on in Europe when they face a Round of 16 tie against holders Liverpool. They need to find a way to beat Jurgen Klopp’s red hot team; otherwise they will be left to fight for a top four place in La Liga.
Diego Martinez’ side has more to play for domestically and has a Copa del Rey semi-final to look forward to after beating current champions Valencia 2-1. The Nazaries had a relatively easy path to the quarter final, but beating Valencia was a big coup and now they are set to face Athletic Bilbao.
Former Spurs striker Roberto Soldado scored twice, including a late penalty, to give the Granada fans a first Copa del Rey semi-final since 1969.
Following promotion back to the top flight after an absence of two seasons the Nazaries started impressively making La Liga 2020 news by challenging at the top, but recent league form has been less so. While Granada have won four of the last six games, three of those victories were in the Copa del Rey and, of the other three games they have two league defeats, to Sevilla and Barcelona.
Granada haven’t won any of the 13 meetings between these two sides over the last 10 years, drawing three and losing the other ten.
A 1-1 draw in Granada last November began Atleti’s drift away from the title race as Granada’s Sanchez headed an equaliser after Renan Lodi had put Los Rojibancos in charge, mid way through the second half. The draw left Atleti three points behind leaders Barcelona, and they have now all but lost touch with the race at the top.
The last league meeting here at the Wanda Metropolitano, back in 2016, was in rather different circumstances as Atleti ran out 7-1 winners, and they have won their last six home games against Granada, scoring 20 goals to one.