What: Spanish La Liga
Who: Atletico Madrid (8th; 30 points) vs Valencia (4th; 44 points)
When: Saturday 12th February, 2011, at 17:00 UK time
Where: Vicente Calderon, Madrid, Spain

Revival in Madrid?

With Barcelona and Real Madrid not giving the other 18 competitors any realistic chance of winning La Liga, the likes of Atletico Madrid will have to be content with the little breadcrumbs that the two Spanish giants opt to leave along the way. 14 points off the top four, Atletico must get back to winning ways should they want to keep their Champions League qualification chances alive for next season.

After winning the Europa League and European Super Cup, Atletico have somehow regressed into the shadows this season, unable to find a winning formula worthy of their pedigree and recently found success. It is something that club president Enrique Cerezo well understands, and the Atletico supremo admitted that his team were finding results hard to come by: “I do not know what’s wrong, I do not think that they have forgotten how to win, I always said that if we do not get in the top four, then the season would be a failure. Hopefully, we can get out of this situation with pride.” And beating Valencia, the side currently occupying that sought-after fourth spot, would help restore confidence that a revival is possible in Madrid.

Vying for Third Spot

Valencia are beginning to show real promise in their post-David Villa era. While the striker will forever be sorely missed at the Mestalla, Los Che are doing the best job they can, given their current financial constraints, especially compared to Barcelona and Real Madrid’s star-studded teams. Now, a realistic third spot remains their top priority for this campaign, an achievable task given the way they have been playing so far this term.

Fresh-off a 2-0 win over Hercules, Valencia coach Unai Emery declared that there was still much room for improvement for his team, while acknowledging that the first two positions were out of reach: “We know that we cannot catch up to the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid. But we are on a level playing field with Villarreal and matches against them will be decided by the small details”, said the tactician.


Recent form

Atletico Madrid:
Sporting Gijon 1-0 Atletico Madrid (23/01; La Liga)
Atletico Madrid 0-2 Athletic Bilbao (30/01; La Liga)
Barcelona 3-0 Atletico Madrid
(05/02; La Liga)

Valencia 4-3 Malaga (22/01; La Liga)
Racing Santander 1-1 Valencia
(31/01; La Liga)
Valencia 2-0 Hercules (06/02; La Liga)

Key absences

Atletico Madrid: Pulido; Mario Suarez; Luis Filipe (doubt)

Valencia: David Albelda; Vicente; Cesar Sanchez; Miguel Moya

Players to watch

Atletico Madrid – Sergio Aguero: Entangled with the Atletico hierarchy over his long-term future at the club, rumours have been running high and low about Kun Aguero lately. With Diego Forlan well off his form, the Argentine hitman will have to be the man to save Los Colchoneros in these times. Aguero would surely love to play in the Champions League next season, and with his talent he has the power to help it happen.

Valencia – Joaquin: The former Real Betis winger has been a true revelation for Valencia this season, stepping up to take the mantle from the departing David Villa and David Silva. While not quite as tricky as in the past, Joaquin still manages to impose himself as a dangerous man down the flank. His influence here could be as crucial as his game-changing creativity.

Match Prediction

Given their recent results, it is hard to see Atletico Madrid taking anything more than a single point from this fixture. Quique Sanchez Flores’ team remains a quality one, but come into this match with a distinct lack of confidence and string of bad results. Valencia meanwhile are fighting hard for every point as they bid to make sure of a Champions League spot. Valencia 2-0 Atletico.