Afternoon all! Sports Mole
's live La Liga coverage continues from Madrid as Atletico Madrid
welcome Eibar. The hosts have actually lost their last two games in all competitions, which has seen them exit the Copa del Rey and drop three points off Barcelona at the top of the table. They are the favourites to return to winning ways here, however, against an Eibar side that have lost their last two in Spain's top flight.
These two teams have met on three occasions in La Liga and Atletico have triumphed each time. The capital side were 2-1 winners when the pair met at the Vicente Calderon last season and have also recorded 3-1 and 2-0 victories at Eibar over the last 12 months. Before that Calderon meeting in 2014, the two clubs had not gone head-to-head in the league since the 2001-02 season.
In fact, their meeting in Madrid in January 2002, which Atletico won 1-0, was in the Segunda Division. Since then, Atletico have gone on to establish themselves as one of the top teams in Europe let alone Spain, while Eibar have battled their way into La Liga. In truth, it is staggering that a club of Eibar's size and financial restrictions are actually able to operate at this level of football.
Eibar were actually relegated from La Liga last season after finishing in 18th, but Elche's own financial problems saw them drop out of the top flight and Eibar re-instated. They had been backed to struggle this season, but it has been an impressive campaign, with a total of 33 points leaving them in eighth.
Right, enough of me jabbering for the moment, let me bring you up-to-speed with the all-important team news from the Vicente Calderon. Who is in and who is out for both teams here...
ATLETI: Oblak; Gamez, Gimenez, Saul, Lucas; Gabi, Koke, Thomas; Carrasco, Correa, Griezmann
EIBAR: To follow...
So there we have it. Atletico are without a number of key players this afternoon, with three members of their usual back four - Diego Godin, Juanfran and Filipe Luis - all suspended. Stefan Savic is also out injured, along with midfielders Augusto Fernandez and Tiago. Saul Niguez
will start at centre-back alongside Jose Gimenez
, while young French defender Lucas Hernandez is in at left-back. Thomas Partey and Angel Correa are also given rare starts in the league.
Still waiting on the Eibar team news, but hopefully that will be made available soon! Atletico will be desperate to return to winning ways here after suffering a 2-1 defeat at Barcelona last weekend. Diego Simeone's side actually took the lead at Camp Nou, but goals from Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez saw the hosts record all the points in a match that saw Luis and Godin sent off for the visitors.
That defeat at Barcelona kept Atletico in second position in the table, three points behind the league leaders, who also have a game in hand. Real Madrid, meanwhile, who play tomorrow night, are now just one point behind Atletico in third position. Simeone's side have had a very impressive season thus far, but they are actually without a win in their last four games in all competitions.
© Getty Images
Atletico's last home match in the league brought a 0-0 draw with Sevilla and goals have been a problem this season. The capital outfit have only managed 31 strikes in their 22 league matches, which is 33 fewer than capital rivals Real Madrid in the same number of matches. Down the other end, however, Atletico have comfortably the best defensive record with just 10 goals conceded.
Atletico will see their next two league games – this one and Getafe away – as winnable, but they then welcome a strong Villarreal, before travelling to Real Madrid before the end of the month. Diego Simeone also has a two-legged Champions League last-16 clash against PSV Eindhoven to prepare for and he does not have the biggest of squads. The next month or so will be a real test for Atletico.
The omens this afternoon, however, are very good for the home team. Indeed, Atletico have gone eight league games in this stadium without a defeat and have only conceded three times during that run. The statistics do point to a low-scoring game, meanwhile, with the Calderon seeing fewer goals (17) than any other stadium in La Liga this season. Still waiting on the Eibar team news!
As for Eibar, they have only won one of their last six away league matches – losing four times in the process. They will also enter this match off the back of successive defeats to Athletic Bilbao and Malaga, but a solid campaign to date has left them in eighth position in the table. They are 13 points clear of the relegation zone as play stands and indeed just three points off the top five.
It would not be much of a surprise if Eibar did slide down the table over the next few weeks, but they have given themselves a real chance of staying in the league. Seven defeats from 22 league matches is a very strong total for a side that finished 18th last season and they have also won nine times, which is the most outside of the top seven. We finally some some confirmed team news!
© Getty Images
ATLETI: Oblak; Gamez, Gimenez, Saul, Lucas; Gabi, Koke, Thomas; Carrasco, Correa, Griezmann
EIBAR: Riesgo; Capa, Mauro, Lillo, Junca; Garcia, Escalante, Adrian; Jota, Enrich, Keko
So there we have it - Eibar have been so kind to provide their team news before kickoff. Ivan Ramis and Antonio Luna are both suspended, which means that there are starts for Mauro dos Santos and David Junca. Further forward, on-loan Brentford attacker Jota is given a start in the final third, while Keko will operate on the other side of impressive centre-forward Sergi Enrich.
Eibar also have two very winnable home games to come over the next couple of weeks. It is a tough ask for them to pick up points in their next two away matches – here and Celta Vigo – but they will welcome both strugglers Levante and Las Palmas before the end of the month. This season has also brought their best-ever run in the Copa del Rey – reaching the round of 16.
PREDICTION! I fancy Atletico here, but I think it will be a very close match. The home side are missing a number of key players and have struggled for goals throughout the season. Looking at the teamsheet, Eibar will fancy their chances, but I am backing a 1-0 win for Atletico at the Calderon.
KICKOFF! Here we go then - both sets of players join us on the pitch for the first period. Can Atletico return to winning ways here? It is the home side that open matters in the capital...
... the pressure is off Eibar this afternoon, but Atletico must respond after losing at Barcelona last weekend. It is very much a second-string Atletico side, but they still have a lot of quality in the XI. Correa has already chased down a couple of through balls from Gabi and Koke respectively here.
Eibar have shown their willingness to pass the ball right throughout this season and the visitors are popping the ball around in the early moments here. Bright start from the team in green.
Correa is operating through the middle for Atletico, with Carrasco on the left and Griezmann on the right. As expected, it is Saul at the heart of the defence. You just get the feeling that the first goal here - if there indeed is one - will be vital. I can quite easily see a 1-0 Atletico win in this match.
Not too much to report in terms of chances in the opening nine minutes, but both teams have shown their willingness to commit players in the final third. Keko and Enrich have both been bright for the visitors, while Correa's movement is causing Eibar's defence some problems here.
Just a few signs that Atletico are starting to take control of the possession, but Eibar are lively all over the park and win another free kick when Keko proves too much for Gabi in midfield.
Well, it has not been the most inspiring of 13 minutes at the Calderon, with both teams struggling to make their mark in the final third. Carrasco is the target from a Griezmann cross, but it has too much weight and the Belgian is forced wide. No shots on target from either side thus far here.
PEN SHOUT! Atletico want a penalty as Correa drives into the Eibar box before going down under a challenge from Capa, but the referee is not interested. I have seen them given, that is for sure!
BOOKING! Thomas (Atletico) is booked for a late challenge on Adrian.
Stop-start period of the match here as the referee continually blows his whistle.
CHANCE! The first chance of the match falls to the home side as Gamez sets up Griezmann with a smart pass, but the Frenchman's effort was always rising over the crossbar!
Stop in play here as Carrasco receives some treatment...
... the Belgian is back on his feet and looks fit to continue. Just a few signs that Atletico are starting to warm to their task, with Koke picking up the space between midfield and defence.
Half-chance for the visitors as Dos Santos rises highest inside the Atletico box to meet a corner, but the defender's header was always moving wide of the post. Still goalless in Madrid.
Gabi has a go from distance, but his effort was always moving wide of the post.
Little under 20 minutes of the first period remaining here and we are still all square. The best chance of the match has fallen to Griezmann, but the forward fired over the Eibar crossbar.
Eibar are not exactly threatening to make the breakthrough here, but they are making it very difficult for Atletico to move the ball in the final third. The referee has had a busy 29 minutes as late challenges continue to arrive from both teams, but there has been just the one yellow card - Thomas.
Not an awful lot to report in terms of attacking football in the last few minutes, but it has been a decent period in possession for the visitors. It has not been the most entertaining of games here!
Adrian has a half-chance for the visitors after some sloppy defending from Atletico, but the midfielder's effort is wide of the post. Still waiting for Eibar's first serious opportunity in Madrid.
Just a reminder that as it stands, Atletico would remain second in the table on 48 points, three behind Barcelona, who would still have a game in hand. Dropped points for the hosts here would also allow Real Madrid to move into second if Los Blancos can beat Granada tomorrow night.
Correa just misses the post after some sloppy defending from the away side.
Little under 10 minutes of the first period remaining and we are still level at the Vicente Calderon. In truth, not too much has happened here. The best chance of the match fell to Griezmann, but the Atletico attacker fired over from close range. Aside from that, not an awful lot has occurred.
Atletico boss Diego Simeone does not have a whole host of attacking options on his bench here, but Vietto and Fernando Torres
are both available. Correa has been bright in the final third, but the service into the Argentine has been lacking in this first period. Not long until the half-time break.
Garcia fells Thomas and Atletico have a free kick in a dangerous area here...
... Gabi crosses towards the far post, but the offside flag is raised. Bit of a waste.
If we are being completely honest, this has not been a great first period in terms of entertainment, but Eibar must be praised for their work-rate all over the park at the Calderon.
CHANCE! Opportunity for the visitors as Jota meets a rising ball inside the box, but the Eibar attacker can only lift his effort over the crossbar. Not too far away there!
HALF-TIME: Atletico 0-0 Eibar
So there we have it. The referee brings the first period to a close with the two teams level at 0-0. Clear chances have been at a premium, but Griezmann came close for Atletico earlier in the half, before Jota poked one over the crossbar just before the break. All square at the Vicente Calderon.
STATS! Atletico have just about shaded the possession with 51%, but they have only registered one shot on target from four attempts. Eibar, meanwhile, have had three attempts, but have failed to hit the target. Just the one booking in the opening 45 - Thomas carded for the home side.
BENCH WATCH! Atletico have Fernando Torres, Oliver Torres and Luciano Vietto on their bench this afternoon, while Argentine midfielder Kranevitter is also available for the goal-shy hosts here. As for Eibar, head coach Mendilibar has forward options in the shape of Saul Berjon and Takashi Inui.
It has been a frustrating afternoon for this man thus far...
© Getty Images
RESTART! Here we go then - both sets of players re-join us on the pitch for the second period. Will we have a breakthrough at the Calderon? Eibar resume the action in the capital...
... no changes from either side at the break, which is not too much of a surprise. However, I suspect that both managers will already have alterations in mind for the second period here.
GOAL! Atletico 0-1 Eibar (Keko)
Oh my word! Eibar take the lead barely one minute into the second period as Enrich takes advantage of a slip from Saul, before squaring for Keko, who curls one into the top corner!
Well, that was not in the script! Atletico have a lot of work to do if they are to turn this around. Lucas races down the left for the home side before delivering towards Griezmann, but Dos Santos manages to clear the danger. Eibar need to get through the next five, 10 minutes here.
Real Madrid and Barcelona will be enjoying Atletico's struggles in this match and it is just not happening for the home side at the moment as another through pass is collected by Riesgo.
End-to-end football at the moment as Eibar lose the ball, allowing Atletico to counter with Griezmann. Once again the final pass is too strong, however, and the visitors clear down-field.
There is still plenty of time for Atletico to get in this match, but they will need to improve their quality in the final third. Thomas finds space down the right before whipping a cross towards Carrasco, but Riesgo is out to collect. Still 1-0 to Eibar with 55 minutes on the clock here.
SAVE! Saul almost makes amends for his slip down the other end as the Spaniard powers a header towards the top corner, but Riesgo is on hand to make the stop!
GOAL! Atletico 1-1 Eibar (Gimenez)
All square! Atletico level the scores in the 56th minute as Gimenez rises above everyone inside the box to power a header past Riesgo. It is a super header and we are all level in Madrid!
I would be surprised if we had seen the last of the goals in this match as both teams continue to commit players in the final third. The tempo has risen about a thousand percent here!
ATLETICO SUBS! Oliver Torres and Vietto replace Thomas and Correa.
You just get the feeling that the next goal - if there indeed is one - would be enough to win this match. The first period was slow and tense, but it has opened up since the break and both teams are threatening to score a second. Still around 30 minutes of this La Liga clash remaining here.
GOAL! Atletico 2-1 Eibar (Saul)
Atletico have turned this game around! Their second goal also comes from a corner as Saul, like Gimenez, rises highest inside the box. Not sure about the marking from Eibar there though!
BOOKING! Keko (Eibar) is booked for a late challenge on Lucas.
Little over 20 minutes of this second periods remaining and Atletico are all over Eibar like a rash as they search for a third, which would surely be enough to make sure of all the points here.
CLOSE! Carrasco drives past three Eibar defenders before curling one towards the top corner, but his effort just misses the post. All one-way traffic at the moment!
EIBAR SUB! Inui replaces Adrian for the away team.
Little over 15 minutes of this La Liga clash remaining and Eibar are just struggling to keep the ball at the moment as Atletico continue to boss possession in the final third of the field here.
Vietto shows excellent feet to drive into the Eibar box before playing in Griezmann, but the Frenchman was in an offside position. Moments before, Eibar came close with a swinging free kick into the Atletico box. Fernando Torres is preparing to enter the frame for the home team...
GOAL DISALLOWED! Vietto sweeps home a low cross from Gamez, but the flag was raised. That looked onside to me! Harsh on the Argentine, that is for sure.
ATLETICO SUB! Fernando Torres replaces Carrasco.
CHANCE! Fernando Torres races through on goal for the home team, but the striker can only poke wide of the post under pressure from Riesgo!
Not an awful lot to report in terms of clear chances in the last few minutes, but Atletico are still very much in control of this match. Eibar seem to have run out of legs in this second period.
SHOT! Fernando Torres strikes just wide of the post once again.
EIBAR SUB! Berjon replaces Keko for the visitors here.
BOOKING! Griezmann (Atletico) is booked for a late challenge on Escalante.
BOOKING! Lillo (Eibar) is booked for dissent.
BOOKING! Junca (Eibar) is booked for a late challenge on Griezmann.
Eibar just cannot get out their own half at the moment as Atletico continue to keep the ball and run down the clock. It appears that the home side will collect all the points in this match.
EIBAR SUB! Radosevic replaces Adrian.
Three minutes of additional time to be played here.
GOAL! Atletico 3-1 Eibar (Torres)
Torres is finally back on the scoresheet for Atletico as the Spaniard taps a low Vietto cross past Riesgo from close range. That is his 100th goal for the Spanish outfit and he deserves it!
FULL-TIME: Atletico 3-1 Eibar
So there we have it! Fernando Torres comes off the bench to score his 100th goal for Atletico, who have run out 3-1 winners over Eibar on home soil in Spain's top flight. Thanks for joining Sports Mole for the action from the Spanish capital once again. Until next time!