This weekend, Atletico Madrid will look to find their form again after the last ever European game at the Vicente Calderon. With so many questions hanging over the stadium, the playing staff, the coach and the future of the club, though, an away match against a struggling Betis team is likely to become second priority. Knowing that Champions League football is more or less secure, Atleti can turn up here with their minds still elsewhere. With so much to answer regarding the direction of the club, it’s going to be interesting to see what direction the club heads in.
This weekend, though, the focus should at least partially be on defeating a side who has been in poor form recently. Three losses on the spin has left Betis without any real hope or expectation for the season – however, one more win should keep them up.
It’s likely that one of their best players, Ruben Pardo, is going to be missing for the home side. Petros is going to come in most likely, although he lacks the same guile and class on the ball as the young missing Spaniard. It’s also likely that, with Victor Sanchez now gone, the club will try to maintain at least some form of consistency with their line-up.
It’s likely that Joaquin will come back into the side, playing alongside Ruben Castro up-front. Tony Sanabria, one of the most promising players in the division at the start of the season, has struggled massively and will sit this one out yet again. Therefore, the signs are not good for manager-less Betis.
For the away side, the concrete heart of the team – Diego Godin – sits this one out with suspension. In fact, his season is now officially over, with a three-match ban seeing him sitting in the stands for the last games. Stefan Savic is likely to come into the side, too, returning from suspension and adding a touch of grit and strength to the back-end of the side. Lucas Hernandez is likely to continue, too, with Jose Maria Gimenez likely to miss out once again. If he does play, he’s likely to be shunted out to full-back as Juanfran might miss out.
With 9 wins in 11, Atletico arrive at a bereft Betis side knowing they have the upper hand. The hosts have won two of their last four home games, granted, but they have been against sides far less talented and fluid than Atletico.
We’d be surprised with anything but an away win on this one. Atletico have momentum, they have energy and they definitely have the means of offering the chance to close the gap on the teams above them in the league with a win. A win here should more or less leave Atletico on the verge of grasping 3rd, accomplishing at least one goal for the season.