History is firmly on Atletico Madrid’s side as Diego Simeone’s men seek to boost their Liga title hopes when they visit struggling Granada this weekend.
It has been 42 years since Granada overcame Atletico, with the capital club enjoying a 13-game unbeaten run against the Andalusian side.
Recent form offers the hosts little cause for optimism either, with Jose Ramon Sandoval’s 17th-placed side reeling from Tuesday’s shock 2-1 Copa del Rey loss to second-tier Leganes.
Indeed, Sandoval has overseen just two wins this season – away to Getafe and versus Athletic Bilbao at the Estadio Nuevo Los Carmenes – so Atletico, who are unbeaten in 11 and eyeing a sixth victory on the bounce in all competitions, will sense an opportunity.
The visitors have been characteristically assured in defence this season, conceding just six goals in 13 league matches with only two of those coming on the road, while Granada have drawn a blank in seven of their last eight meetings with Atletico.
Sandoval may have hoped the injury-enforced absence of midfield star Tiago Mendes – who broke his leg in last weekend’s 1-0 victory over Espanyol – would weaken Atletico, but his replacement Saul Niguez scored the decisive goal in the midweek 2-1 Copa win over Reus Deportiu to underline their strength in depth.
Atletico received a further boost this week with the news that defensive mainstay Juanfran had agreed a new deal. The full-back has helped the club to secure La Liga, Copa del Rey and Europa League honours since arriving from from Osasuna in 2011 and will now remain in the capital until 2018.
The 30-year-old looks certain to start against Granada, as does in-form France attacker Antoine Griezmann, who has netted six top-flight goals this season, while Gabi returns from suspension.
Forward Jackson Martinez will again miss out, although the Colombia international is reportedly recovering well from ankle and knee problems and is on track to return to the fray before Christmas.
Granada, meanwhile, are set to be without suspended midfielder Javi Marquez, with Ruben Perez ready to deputise.
Key Opta Stats:
– Granada have gone 13 La Liga games without a win against Atletico Madrid (D4 L9). Their last victory over Atletico came in 1973 (1-0).
– In nine out of those 13 games, Atletico kept a clean sheet against the Andalusian side.
– Atletico have lost just one of their last 14 away games in the top-flight (W7 D6), keeping nine clean sheets in that run.
– Atletico have kept the most clean sheets in La Liga so far (8).
– Granada have seen the most cards in La Liga so far (Y46 R3).
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