Atletico de Madrid host Valencia this Saturday with both teams moving towards the top of LaLiga table
Atletico de Madrid versus Valencia on Saturday looks set to be an exciting clash between two teams heading in the right direction towards the top of the LaLiga Santander standings.
Both Atletico and Valencia have had up and down starts to the season and know that three points will keep them right on the tails of the leaders as LaLiga heads into a crunch period of the season.
Atletico had a very strong start and lead LaLiga after winning each of their first three games. A new-look team has stumbled a little since then, while also showing strength in late-September’s 0-0 derby draw at home to neighbours Real Madrid. Their impressive defensive record of just four goals conceded so far means Diego Simeone’s side sat third in the table through the international break.
Portuguese starlet Joao Felix and England international right-back Kieran Trippier are two summer Colchoneros signings to have made strong starts to the 2019/20 campaign. Ghana international Thomas Partey has been outstanding in midfield, while Jan Oblak is on course for a record-equalling fifth career ‘Zamora’ award as LaLiga’s best goalkeeper.
Valencia has also had an eventful season so far, with injuries contributing to a below-par start and former coach Marcelino Garcia Toral leaving the club in early September. Last season’s Copa del Rey winners are now unbeaten in their last four domestic outings, with a well-earned 2-1 victory against D. Alaves last time out taking them up to seventh in the early LaLiga standings.
Former RC Celta striker Maxi Gomez has hit the ground running at Mestalla, with the powerful Uruguay international scoring four times in his first eight LaLiga games for his new team, the same tally as club captain Dani Parejo. South Korean teenager Kang-in Lee got his first LaLiga goal against Getafe recently, while Saturday’s game should be extra special-for former Atletico striker Kevin Gameiro, who scored against his old side last season.
There will also be a focus on the sidelines where two former LaLiga winning midfielders go head-to-head. New Valencia coach Albert Celades was a two-time Spanish title winner with both Barcelona and Real Madrid as a player. The Catalan began coaching in Spain’s national youth set-up, managed La Roja’s Under-21 side from 2014 to 2018; the Valencia job is the 44-year-old's first in senior club management.
Simeone is the longest-serving coach among LaLiga Santander’s 20 clubs, having taken over the club he also served as a player in December 2011. Since then the 49-year-old has guided his team to seven trophies, including the 2013/14 LaLiga title and the 2017/18 Europa League. The ex-Argentina international always particularly relishes clashes against Valencia, a fellow Champions League 2019/20 competitor who have traditionally been a direct rival for Atletico.
History seems to be in Atletico’s favour ahead of their first meeting of the new season. Simeone’s team have won each of their last four home LaLiga games against Valencia either side of their move to the Wanda Metropolitano from their old Vicente Calderon stadium.
Atleti’s 3-2 victory last year was one of the most exciting and high-quality games of the 2018/19 LaLiga campaign. Expect similar entertainment this Saturday at the Wanda Metropolitano.
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