A positive week saw Atlético Madrid get into the Champions League knockout phase and get back on the winning path in LaLiga. Now, Diego Simeone’s crew has a chance to close out the first half of the season with another win at Real Betis.
Atlético have lost just one league match against Betis under Simeone, though it seems as if this game is always a struggle for the mattress makers. The Andalusians endured a rocky start to the campaign and coach Rubi appeared on the verge of the sack, but he’s steadied the ship and his team has lost just once over the past six contests.
The hosts continue to get production out of their 38-year-old captain Joaquín, who scored a hat trick against Athletic Club two weeks ago. Loren Morón is in the Pichichi hunt courtesy of his eight goals, while Nabil Fékir has had a solid rebound year and 20-year-old right back Emerson has impressed.
Oblak; Trippier, Felipe, Giménez, Lodi; Thomas, Saúl, Herrera, Lemar; Félix, Morata.
1-0 Atlético. I should know better at this point. Los Rojiblancos have drawn their past five away from home in LaLiga and blew a 1-0 lead in two of those games. Atleti have scored just six times on the road and take even longer than usual to get going in other teams’ stadiums.
Simeone will be absent Koke as the captain is out with a muscular problem (and, likely, on dad duty with his newborn son). But the planned midfield three with Héctor Herrera on the right is industrious with plenty of technical quality. Betis have not kept a clean sheet at home this season and possess one of LaLiga’s leakiest defenses, so the chances should be there for a team that has created quite a few of them in recent weeks. I’ll look for Ángel Correa to sneak a winner off the bench.
My record on the season: 13-10
How to watch
Date Dec. 22, 2019
Location Estadio Benito Villamarín, Seville, Andalusia, Spain
Kickoff time 4:00 p.m. CET, 3:00 p.m. GMT, 10:00 a.m. EST, 7:00 a.m. PST
Available TV/streaming Movistar+ (Spain), LaLiga TV (United Kingdom), beIN Sports (United States), Eleven Sports 1 (Portugal), SL4G (Ghana), Sky HD (Mexico), ESPN (Brazil), Guangdong Sports Channel (China)