Evening all! Sports Mole
's live La Liga coverage continues from the Spanish capital as the champions Atletico Madrid
welcome an in-form Villarreal side. Right, before we get down to the details ahead of the match, let me bring you up-to-speed with the all-important team news.
ATLETICO: Moya; Juanfran, Miranda, Godin, Siqueira; Tiago, Gabi; Koke, Turan, Garcia; Mandzukic
VILLARREAL: Asenjo; Mario, Gabriel, Ruiz, Costa; Bruno, Trigueros, J.Dos Santos, Cheryshev; Uche, Vietto
So there we have it. Miranda returns to the Atletico XI this evening following a period on the sidelines, meaning that highly-rated centre-back Jose Gimenez has dropped to the bench. The remainder of the team is as expected, with Raul Garcia and Arda Turan providing support to the lone forward Mario Mandzukic. Antoine Griezmann and Mario Suarez, meanwhile, are both named on the bench.
Villarreal, meanwhile, stick with the same XI that thumped Real Sociedad 4-0 last time out. Luciano Vietto
continues in attack alongside Ikechukwu Uche, while Denis Cheryshev, who has seven league assists to his name this term, also starts in a wide position. Moi Gomez's two goals against Sociedad, however, were not enough to earn the youngster a start. Both managers have selected attacking teams.
In terms of the recent meetings between the two sides, Atletico have won four of the last five matches, with the further clash ending in a draw. Last season, the pair played out a 1-1 draw in this stadium, before Atletico recorded a 1-0 victory at the Vicente Calderon towards the end of the season.
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Atletico enter the match off the back of three successive wins in the league, but they remain third in the table. As it stands, they are three points behind second-place Barcelona, who drew at Getafe on Saturday and seven points behind the leaders Real Madrid, who won at Almeria on Friday. That said, Atletico have of course played one game less than their two main rivals.
Atletico were also in Champions League action during the week, with Tuesday's goalless draw at Juventus securing top spot in Group A. The Spanish champions will find out their last-16 opponents on Monday. Back in La Liga, meanwhile, they have won six of their seven games in this stadium – scoring 19 times in the process and conceding just six. It has certainly been a fortress in recent seasons.
Villarreal, however, also enter the match off the back of a strong run of form. The Yellow Submarine have also won their last three in the league – scoring seven times in the process and conceding just once. Last weekend, they thumped Real Sociedad 4-0 at El Madrigal to regain sixth spot in the table.
Somewhat surprisingly, Villarreal have already lost three times on their own patch this season, but their form on the road is very strong. In fact, they have only lost one of their seven away league games this season and only conceded five times on their travels. Will that strong record continue tonight?
PREDICTION! This is a really, really difficult match for Atletico. Villarreal are flying at the moment and have so much talent in their XI. Atletico will enter as favourites, however, and think that the home side will just have enough to come through 2-1 winners. Let's hope for a cracker!
Here we go then. Both sets of players join us on the pitch for the first period. The pre-match handshakes have been undertaken and the flags have been exchanged. As expected, there is a wonderful atmosphere inside this famous stadium. It is the away side that get the first 45 minutes underway.
Atletico have taken control of the possession in the opening couple of minutes here, with Gabi and Koke both enjoying possession in the middle of the park. Villarreal will attempt to soak up the pressure and play on the counter attack. This has all the makings of a real classic in the capital.
Not too much to report in terms of attacking pressure thus far, with both sides just trying to play their way into the match. The first goal - if there indeed is one - could be vital this evening.
Villarreal have been able to gain some good ground down the right in the last couple of minutes, but Mario has been unable to find a yellow shirt inside the box. Nothing much from Atletico thus far, with Mandzukic denied by Victor Ruiz in the corner despite what looked to be a clear foul.
Half-chance for Atletico as Gabi floats a pass towards Koke, but the Spaniard just cannot control under pressure from Gabriel and the danger is cleared. The early atmosphere inside the stadium has dropped as both sides continue to play their way into the match. Fairly slow start here.
Better from Atletico as Juanfran drives down the right before finding Turan, who swings a cross towards the far post, but Siqueira's effort is high and wide of the crossbar. Danger for Villarreal.
Atletico continue to force the issue as Juanfran delivers a dangerous cross towards Mandzukic, but Bruno is on hand to clear the danger. Not too much in the final third from Villarreal thus far, but they have plenty of pace in the final third. Still goalless with 13 minutes on the clock in the Spanish capital.
The referee has been called into action on a couple of occasions in the last few minutes due to some wrestling inside the Villarreal box. At the moment, Atletico are really on the front foot here.
BOOKING! Uche (Villarreal) is booked for a late challenge on Godin.
CLOSE! Atletico come close to opening the scoring as Koke curls one from outside the box, but his effort just moved wide of the post. Asenjo was in trouble scrambling across goal.
Just a reminder that three points for Atletico this evening would move them level on points with second-place Barcelona in the table. If they avoid defeat, meanwhile, they would end 2014 with an unbeaten league record at this stadium. Villarreal will look to harm that strong run this evening.
Villarreal have been a little untidy in the final third this evening, with Cheryshev and Vietto both struggling to influence proceedings in the opening 23 minutes. However, Atletico have not had too much in the final third thus far. It is an even contest - as expected - at the Vicente Calderon.
Villarreal remain tight in defensive areas as Juanfran and Koke both fail with low crosses into the box. Marcelino will be pleased with his side's performance in the opening 25 minutes here.
Villarreal threaten down the right as Mario finds space before delivering a cross towards Uche, but Godin is on hand to clear the penalty area, before Garcia completes the job. Atletico are so well-drilled at the back, which makes it so difficult for teams to breach their defence. Still goalless in Madrid.
BOOKING! Turan (Atletico) is booked for a rash challenge on Vietto.
Not too much is happening at the moment truth be told, with both sides a little sloppy in the final third of the field. It is the type of match that was expected - very tight in all areas of the pitch.
Siqueira and Juanfran continue to break into the final third for Atletico, but neither has been able to produce a telling cross thus far. Mandzukic has struggled, meanwhile, with Ruiz and Gabriel in control at the back. Villarreal have plenty of pace, but have been unable to stretch Atletico thus far tonight.
Atletico cannot break through the sea of yellow at the moment as Villarreal continue to clear their lines each time the ball is played into a dangerous area. Turan does find Godin with a cross, but the centre-back's header was always moving high of the crossbar. A sight of goal, but no more than that.
The referee has issued two yellow cards this evening and it could have been more as the challenges continue to arrive in the middle of the park. It is all a little untidy at the moment to be truthful.
It hasn't quite happened for Mandzukic thus far and the striker is in the wars once again following an aerial challenge with Gabriel. Atletico have a half-chance moments later following good work from Juanfran, but Asenjo is across to deny an effort from Tiago, which might well have sneaked in.
It is handbags at dawn as Dos Santos and Mandzukic clash on the left, which brings a furious reaction from both sets of players. The referee might well issue a couple of cards here...
... BOOKINGS! Indeed, the referee takes action. Dos Santos (Villarreal) and Mandzukic (Atletico) are both booked following a clash down the left. There was not too much in it.
Atletico have a free kick in a dangerous position down the left as Mario fells Siqueira...
... the resulting free kick is delivered by Koke, but Cheryshev heads clear at the near post.
CHANCE! Wonderful chance on the counter for Villarreal as Bruno slides a pass beyond the Atletico defence, which Cheryshev takes in his stride. The Russian, however, fires his effort straight into the body of Moya. What a chance for the visitors to take the lead later in the half.
BOOKING! Juanfran (Atletico) is booked for handball.
PENALTY SHOUT! Villarreal want a penalty as Gabi appears to handle inside the box, but the referee is not interested. It clearly struck the arm of the Spaniard.
HALF-TIME: Atletico 0-0 Villarreal
So there we have it. The referee brings the first period to an end with the two sides level at 0-0. In truth, there has not been much in the way of clear chances, with both struggling in the final third. Villarreal will feel that they should have had a penalty late in the half when Gabi moved his arm towards the ball inside the area, but no decision was forthcoming. It is all to play for in the second 45 minutes.
STATS! Atletico have shaded the possession with 56%, while they have had five attempts, just one of which has been on target. Villarreal, meanwhile, have registered just one attempt on target. There have also been five yellow cards in what was a really feisty first 45 minutes of action.
BENCH WATCH! The home side have a number of attacking options on their bench this evening, with the likes of Cerci, Griezmann and Rodriguez all in reserve. Villarreal, meanwhile, also have options in the shape opt Gomez, Moreno and Marin. Which manager will move first tonight?
Here we go then. Both sets of players join us on the pitch for the second period. Are we heading for a stalemate here? It is the home side that get the second 45 minutes of action underway.
No changes from either manager at the interval, which is not much of a surprise. However, I suspect that alterations will occur if the score remains level for the next 20 minutes or so.
It has been a bright start to the second period from Atletico, with Koke and Gabi seeing plenty of the ball in the opening couple of minutes. Villarreal are still fairly comfortable in defensive areas, however. I wonder when the away side will start to show more ambition in the final third of the field.
Cheryshev tries his luck for the away side after finding some space outside the box, but his effort was always moving high and wide of the crossbar. Still goalless with 50 minutes played.
CHANCE! Wonderful chance for the away side as Vietto finds himself unmarked outside the Atletico box, but his effort just bends away from goal. Much, much better.
Slightly untidy period of the match in the last couple of minutes, with both sides guilty of a number of late challenges. Villarreal are just starting to look the more dangerous outfit in the final third, meanwhile, with Mario and Costa both advancing from full-back and delivering dangerous crosses.
BOOKING! Trigueros (Villarreal) goes into the book for bringing Gabi to the ground on the edge of the box. This is a good chance for Atletico - can they take advantage?
CHANCE! Wonderful chance for Atletico as Gabi's set piece is headed down by Godin and met by Mandzukic, but his low effort is saved by Asenjo. Wonderful goalkeeping there!
Villarreal just cannot seem to get out of their own half at the moment as the pressure continues from Atletico, who have suddenly raised the tempo. Little over 30 minutes of football remaining.
GOAL DISALLOWED! Atletico have the ball in the back of the net as Mandzukic heads a Turan cross into the back of the net, but the referee whistled for a foul on Mario. That is harsh on the big Croatian, who hardly touched Mario at the far post. Atletico should be ahead here.
Villarreal are attempting to slow the match down, but Atletico are in full control now.
SUBS! Atletico make their first change as Garcia is replaced by Griezmann. Villarreal also look to their bench as Pina replaces Trigueros. Still goalless at the Vicente Calderon.
Another half-chance for the home side as Koke meets a cross from Juanfran, but his header was always moving wide of the post. Just a reminder that three points for Atletico would move them level on points with second-place Barcelona, but they are finding Villarreal a tough nut to crack.
Villarreal threaten as Cheryshev delivers a dangerous cross towards the middle of the box, but Uche cannot make contact under pressure from Godin. Villarreal are preparing their second sub...
... SUB! Villarreal make their second change as Moi Gomez replaces Uche.
Atletico are preparing to make their second change of the match, with Cerci the player called for. It has all gone a little stale in the last couple of minutes, with Villarreal fairly comfortable. You just get the feeling that there is at least one goal in this match and Villarreal are definitely in the hunt.
Griezmann comes close to meeting a cross from Juanfran inside the Villarreal box, but Gabriel is on hand to make a brilliant clearance. The Brazilian takes a nasty knock to the head for his troubles.
SUB! Atletico make their second change as Cerci replaces Gabi.
Villarreal remain a threat on the counter as Vietto drives past Koke before sliding a pass towards Cheryshev, but the Russian cannot collect and Atletico have a dead ball. Still goalless in the capital.
CHANCE! Incredible chance for Villarreal as Cheryshev plays in Vietto, who only has the goalkeeper to beat, but the Argentine's touch is poor and Moya is out to make the challenge.
SUB! Atletico make their final change as Suarez replaces Turan.
Half-chance for the home side as Cerci delivers a dangerous cross towards the near post, but Ruiz just does enough to clear the danger. Cerci has another chance to cross moments later, but delivers straight into the arms of the goalkeeper. Still goalless with little over 10 minutes of football remaining.
Atletico just have not been able to find their tempo in the final third this evening as attack after attack breaks down. Villarreal remain a threat on the counter, but are shutting up shop here.
CHANCE! Atletico come close to taking the lead as Godin meets a deep cross from Koke, but the defender's effort is high of the crossbar. Can Villarreal hold on in the capital?
Tiago is next to try his luck for the home side after good work from Mandzukic, but the midfielder's effort was always curling wide of the post. Still no breakthrough with 82 minutes played.
CHANCE! A brilliant burst of pace from Cheryshev allows the Villarreal forward to fashion a shooting attempt on goal, but his effort is palmed wide by Moya. Wow.
GOAL! Atletico 0-1 Villarreal (Vietto)
WOW! Villarreal take the lead at the Calderon as Vietto gains a yard of space on the edge of the box before finishing into the corner of the net. Brilliant work from the Argentine, who might have won it.
What a turn-up! Can Atletico respond? They have enough time to avoid defeat here.
BOOKING! Koke (Atletico) is booked for dissent.
Atletico just cannot keep the ball at the moment as Villarreal go in search of a second. Villarreal are on the cusp of securing a famous result at the Calderon, but they are not there just yet.
SUB! Villarreal make their third change as Rukavina replaces Vietto.
Half-chance for Godin as the centre-back meets a Juanfran cross, but his header is wide.
The fourth official indicates that we will play an additional three minutes here.
It is Villarreal with possession as time runs away from the Spanish champions. Is there time?
Atletico force a free kick deep in the Villarreal half as Bruno fells Godin...
... Koke delivers, but it is straight into the arms of the Villarreal goalkeeper. Poor.
Moya is forward for the corner!
Villarreal clear once again and there are only seconds remaining.
FULL-TIME: Atletico 0-1 Villarreal
Wow. Incredible result at the Calderon as Villarreal beat Atletico 1-0. It is the first time in 2014 that Atletico have been beaten on their own patch in the league. They now sit seven points behind the league leaders Real Madrid. Thanks for joining Sports Mole for the action. Until next time!