This weekend sees an Atletico Madrid side that has seen its momentum checked somewhat take on an improving Malaga. Unbeaten in three and with many good results recently, Malaga feel like a team in a pretty good moment. The hosts, though, need to get back to winning ways following their shock 1-0 loss at home to Sevilla last weekend.
Atletico come into this game more or less dominant in every department – in fact, nothing that Malaga can offer outshines Atletico for us. One thing that the away side does have, though, is a strong defensive record and a star in midfield. That star is, of course, ex-Atleti youth midfield Ignacio Camacho. Forever linked with a return home and to larger clubs than Malaga, this is the year for Camacho to show that his level is beyond that of clubs like the Andalusian side.
However, just now, he has a game to prepare for. Ateltico are no mugs and at home they provide one of the most intimidating and trying opponents in world football. However, Sevilla showed how to get through Atletico and it will be interesting to see if Malaga can take any kind of inspiration from that.
Since Malaga come into the game with as many as eight missing, though, it’s not likely to be a strong Malaga side. Few of the missing players are first-team picks but many of them are reliable squad players, such as Keko and Weligton.
Atletico come into the game missing the fantastic Koke, as well as Augusto Fernandez who is injured long-term. Other absentees include goalkeeper Moya and winger Cerci, who wouldn’t play anyway. In this game, we expect Atletico to line up in their usual 4-4-2 formation although a lack of options means this was likely to be the case anyway.
This is likely to be a chance for both Saul Niguez to cement his position in the team alongside Gabi, as well as Nico Gaitan. Gaitan is yet to explode since his arrival from Benfica, and this could be a good game for him to get a chance to truly show what he can do for Atletico fans.
As far as talent goes, only one winner leaves this game. In terms of work ethic, too, Atletico are clear winners. The only way that we can see an away win or draw is if Atletico do not turn up. And in fairness that has happened more than once this season.
We’ll go for a strong home win, though. We trust that Atletico are professional enough to lean from their errors and to find a greater level of consistency in the near future. Malaga are OK, but Atletico just feel a better bet at present.
3-1 Atleti is our call.