Valencia – Atlético Madrid: Resolute Valencia Spare Atlético A Damaging Defeat (2–2)
Facing off twenty four hours early in light of midweek Champions League fixtures, Atlético Madrid and Valencia played an important game for two sides whose domestic seasons now center upon securing elite European football next year. Four goals, equally shared, ensued in a fixture where the hosts were more deserving of all three points and left Atlético Madrid clutching onto a result.
Tactical analysis by Emmanuel Adeyemi-Abere.
Valencia’s form at the start of the year was encouraging with three wins from four in January. But following an abject 3-0 defeat against Getafe last weekend, manager Albert Celades entered this game needing a response to reinvigorate their league form against another direct rival for a Champions League berth.
Meanwhile Atlético Madrid’s underwhelming form has persisted into the new year. Ending a five-game winless streak in all competitions with a dour 1-0 victory over Granada, Diego Simeone’s side entered this game precariously in fourth position. A result for the guests would help to abate concerns of failure to attain Champions League football for the first time since 2012.
Unsurprisingly, Celades made several changes to Valencia’s starting eleven from the side that started last weekend against Getafe. Lining up in a 4-4-2 formation, Eliaquim Mangala replaced Mouctar Diakhaby at center-back and Daniel Wass replaced the suspended Alessandro Florenzi at right back. Finally, Gonçalo Guedes joined Maxi Gómez upfront relegating Rodrigo from the side.
Simeone also deployed his side in their 4-4-2 shape making two changes to the team that started against Granada. Both alterations were in the back four as Felipe Monteiro joined Stefan Savić at center-back instead of . . .