Atlético Madrid have won seven of the past nine league meetings with Celta Vigo, and another one Tuesday night would virtually seal a place in next season’s UEFA Champions League.
Atlético are eight points clear of fifth-place Villarreal, which took a heavy defeat at home to Barcelona on Sunday. Villarreal (54 points) can reach a maximum of 66 points with four wins from its final four games, while Atlético will hit 65 points with a victory in Vigo. Given Atleti also have the head-to-head advantage over Villarreal (and sixth-place Getafe), it would take a monumental collapse to see a top-four slot slip from the team’s grasp.
At the other end of the table, Celta are trying to stay up and sit six points clear of the bottom three. Iago Aspas and crew likely have done just enough to ensure salvación despite some wonky results since football’s return — including a 6-0 thrashing of Alavés, a 2-2 draw versus Barça and a 5-1 defeat at Mallorca.
Diego Simeone has overseen five victories in his side’s past seven trips to Balaídos, with four clean sheets. On the whole, Atlético’s defense has conceded just four goals since play resumed on June 14 — though Los Colchoneros’ four-year run of having LaLiga’s best goals against record looks as if it will be snapped this season.
Possible XI Oblak; Arias, Felipe, Giménez, Lodi; Thomas, Koke, Correa, Vitolo; Llorente, Morata.
Prediction 2-1 Atlético. Los Colchoneros will need the two men up top — the Anfield duo, the pair which combined for the team’s second goal against Mallorca on Friday — to provide more inspiration in the northwest. João Félix (another ankle injury) and Diego Costa (suspension) will be unavailable, and I can see Simeone opting for a more attacking look in midfield as his rotations continue.
It’s hard to know which Celta will show up — if it’s the brilliant one with Aspas and Rafinha all over the final third, Oblak will be busy. But Atlético are unbeaten in 14 games, with a coach pushing the right buttons from the touchline. I think Ángel Correa finds his rhythm and scores the eventual winner.
My record on the season 24-21
Date July 7, 2020
Location Balaídos, Vigo, Galicia, Spain
Kickoff time 10:00 p.m. CET, 9:00 p.m. GMT, 4:00 p.m. EST, 1:00 p.m. PST
Available TV/streaming Movistar+ (Spain), LaLiga TV (United Kingdom), beIN Sports (United States), Sportklub 2 (Slovenia), Sky HD (Mexico), beIN Sports 3 HD (Palestine), beIN Sports 3 (Australia), iQiyi (China)