La Liga Preview: Easy trip for Atletico
By Football News
Atletico Madrid head coach Diego Simeone may take the opportunity to rest some key players when his side travel to Almeria on Saturday.
While Simeone will be keen for a response from his side after a 3-0 loss away to Real Madrid in their Copa del Rey semi-final first leg on Wednesday, Saturday's trip to Almeria in La Liga may be a rare opportunity for the Argentine coach to rotate his squad.
Simeone is renowned for generally sticking with a core group of around 14 players for most matches but with Almeria struggling in the Spanish league, the 43-year-old may make some changes ahead of a busy period of games.
The likes of Spanish striker Adrian (two starts in La Liga this season), Belgian defender Toby Alderweireld (three starts) and Uruguayan midfielder Cristian Rodriguez (zero) would be keen to avoid starting on the bench this week.
Atletico (57 points, plus 42 goal difference) took a shock three-point lead in La Liga last week after thumping Real Sociedad 4-0 with Valencia stunning Barcelona (54, plus 43) 3-2 at the Camp Nou, while Real Madrid (54, plus 39) were held to a 1-1 draw by Athletic Bilbao.
While Simeone's men face Copa del Rey and UEFA Champions League commitments in the coming weeks, they face a relatively easy run in La Liga with their clash with 17th-placed Almeria to be followed by fixtures against Real Valladolid (18th) and Osasuna (16th).
Barcelona, who defeated Sociedad 2-0 on Wednesday in the Copa del Rey, will look to bounce back from their surprise loss last week when they travel to Sevilla on Sunday, while Real face another tricky test when they host fifth-placed Villarreal on Saturday.
Valencia will look to extend their unbeaten run to four games when they host bottom club Real Betis, who claimed a rare three points last week, accounting for Espanyol 2-0.
Juan Antonio Pizzi has made a significant difference to Valencia since he took over as head coach in late December.
The Argentine has led Valencia in five La Liga encounters for two wins, two draws and a loss.
Espanyol will be desperate to atone for their embarrassing loss last week when they start round 23 against Granada on Friday, while in other matches, Rayo Vallecano will host Malaga, Osasuna face Getafe, Real Valladolid will entertain Elche, Sociedad are up against Levante and Celta de Vigo will play Bilbao.