MX23RW : Tuesday, January 28 14:53:47| >> :600:4732842:4732842:
Dec 6, 2019 at 8pm UK at ​Estadio de la Cerámica (Villarreal)
Attendance: 17,678
AtleticoAtletico Madrid

Preview: Villarreal vs. Atletico Madrid - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Villarreal's meeting with Atletico Madrid in La Liga on Friday, including a prediction, team news and predicted lineups.

Two teams desperate for three points come together on Friday as Atletico Madrid travel to Castellon for a meeting with Villarreal in La Liga.

The hosts find themselves languishing in 13th place, while Diego Simeone's men are still struggling to find their feet after a summer of considerable change.

Match preview

Villarreal's Pau Torres in action against Barcelona in La Liga on September 24, 2019© Reuters

Javier Calleja's men will hardly view Atletico as ideal opponents as they look to end a winless run of five games in La Liga and create some badly-needed momentum.

Following an excellent first campaign under Calleja during the 2017-18 season, during which Villarreal finished fifth, the club has markedly struggled for consistency, stumbling to 14th position last term and currently languishing in a similar position after 14 games this time around.

There is plenty of talent in this team and a potential to cause opponents serious damage, as seen through a rampant 5-1 win over Real Betis in September, with striker Karl Toko Ekambi pulling the visitors all over the pitch with his electric movement.

Such a performance, hallmarked by blistering pace and ruthless precision, is always possible when you have players like Santi Cazorla and Gerard Moreno playing in the final third.

But as Villarreal prepare to face Atletico, they will know that this ability has to be coupled with the perfect mindset over 90 minutes if they are to arrest this current slump in results.

Barcelona's Antoine Griezmann in action with Atletico Madrid's Alvaro Morata in La Liga on December 1, 2019© Reuters

Following a summer of such fundamental change, at a club that for so long seemed to stay relatively the same, you can perhaps understand why there are some teething problems for this new-look Atletico side.

The club spent almost £220m on transfers over the summer, with eight players coming in, while members of the old guard such as Juanfran, Diego Godin, Antoine Griezmann and Filipe Luis moved elsewhere.

Normally a team guaranteed to sit in La Liga's top three, Atletico currently find themselves off the pace in sixth following a string of performances that have been evocative of a team whose moving parts are not perfectly in sync like they were during the golden days between 2013 and 2015.

Perhaps the most telling fact of this season is that Atletico, despite signing the superb Joao Felix, have only mustered 16 goals from 14 La Liga games - the lowest of any of the top 14 teams in the division.

As they travel east to face Villarreal, Atletico will know that failure to improve that record sooner rather than later could leave them under serious threat of missing out on the Champions League next season.

Recent Villarreal form: WLDLLL
Recent Atletico Madrid form: DLWDLL

Team News

Diego Costa in action for Atletico Madrid on September 14, 2019© Reuters

A huge miss for Villarreal will be Cazorla, who has a sprained ankle, along with former Liverpool defender Alberto Moreno, with the latter suffering a thigh problem.

Ramiro Guerra is another player set to miss out, but Bruno Soriano, injured since pre-season, has an outside chance of returning to the squad.

Borja Garces and Jose Gimenez have returned to training ahead of this game but are unlikely to feature, while defender Stefan Savic is definitely out due a hamstring problem.

Striker Diego Costa is out until February with a neck problem, although Sime Vrsaljko is edging closer to a return from a knee ligament injury sustained in January.

Another important player in the form of Angel Correa will also miss out after picking up an accumulation of yellow cards.

Villarreal possible starting lineup:
Asenjo; Mario, Albiol, Torres, Quintilla; Morlanes; Trigueros, Anguissa, Chukwueze, Moreno; Toko Ekambi

Atletico Madrid possible starting lineup:
Oblak; Trippier, Felipe, Hermoso, Lodi; Herrera, Thomas, Lemar, Koke; Morata, Felix

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We say: Villarreal 1-2 Atletico Madrid

Neither team enters this game in particularly good form, but Villarreal will be especially concerned following three straight defeats, while Atletico still have more than enough quality to bring this game under their control.

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Who will win Friday's La Liga clash between Villarreal and Atletico Madrid?

Atletico Madrid
Atletico Madrid
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