Atlético Madrid Hosts Alavés at Home with One Eye on the Champions League
Atlético Madrid is facing a decisive week for their hopes in the closing stages of the 2021-2022 season, facing the double competition (domestic and continental) after the forced break for FIFA. Diego Simeone will face several challenges at once, despite the seeming simplicity of the opponent in La Liga.
Fourth in the La Liga table with 54 points (level on points with Barcelona but with a game in hand on the Blaugrana), they will welcome Alavés at the Wanda Metropolitano, who are second-bottom in the league, and with their coach José Luis Mendilibar on the ropes barely four months after taking over.
At Bookmaker Ratings most of the trusted gambling companies give the better odds to the home side, who are on a fantastic run of five consecutive wins and have not conceded a goal in their last two games, as they are the overwhelming favourites. Alavés, meanwhile, have a dismal away record in the league, picking up just 6 points out of a possible 42 in that condition.
Away from the top of the table, 12 points behind leaders Real Madrid, Atlético’s main objective in La Liga is to consolidate their position in the Champions League qualification zone for the 2022-2023 season. Betis are four points behind, but lost ground after their goalless draw against Celta Vigo last time out.
Saturday’s game will be the final test for the Colchoneros before their crucial clash against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium in the Champions League quarter-finals. Atleti is coming off the back of dispatching the other city giants in the last 16 and, above all, rediscovering the competitive tenacity characteristic of Simeone’s teams.
Guardiola’s side, meanwhile, has doubts over their two first-choice centre-backs, England’s John Stones and Portugal’s Ruben Dias, both nursing injuries. Despite these setbacks, City remains clear favourites at bookmakers ahead of the game on Tuesday, April 5th.
On the other hand, as the opening of the winter transfer window approaches, rumours are growing that the Colchoneros are looking to bring in Paulo Dybala. The Argentinian striker is set to leave Juventus after efforts to renew his contract with the Vecchia Signora’s management failed. This would mean the almost certain departure from the club of Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez, who will have to find a new destination to arrive in full fitness and form for the World Cup in Qatar to be held next November.
However, other teams are bidding for Dybala’s services, including Inter Milan. That is why Atleti has also set their sights on the possibility of swapping one Uruguayan striker for another, in the shape of Darwin Nunez, who trained at Penarol and is currently lighting up the Portuguese Primeira Liga, having scored 26 goals for Benfica. The main obstacle is the price that the team from the Portuguese capital has set as a basis for negotiation, 80 million euros.