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Atlético Madrid-Athletic Club: The crucial game in hand

Atleti and its one-time parent club will make up a match originally slated for January.

Atletico de Madrid v Real Madrid - La Liga Santander Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images

The matchday 18 encounter between Atlético Madrid and Athletic Club de Bilbao will be played Wednesday night in Madrid — two months after an historic snowstorm forced its postponement.

Atlético (18-5-2, 59 points) have been sitting on this game in hand for a while, and it takes on additional importance following Sunday’s draw against Real Madrid. At the moment, Atleti hold a three-point lead over Barcelona in the standings, with Madrid five points off the pace. A victory against Marcelino’s Athletic (9-6-10, 33 points) would extend the colchoneros’ lead atop LaLiga with 12 games to go.

Athletic have qualified for two cup finals since Marcelino’s arrival in January — winning one against Barça and playing the other next month against the same opponent. Álex Berenguer’s stoppage-time winner against Granada at San Mamés on Sunday took los leones to eighth in the table. Marcelino’s appointment has coincided with a scalding-hot streak in front of goal for Athletic — over the past eight games, the Basque side has scored 17 goals despite ringing up 11 expected goals in that time.

Athletic Club v Granada CF - La Liga Santander Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images

But Simeone and Marcelino duels are typically intense and low-scoring, with just 14 total goals scored across 10 head-to-head battles. The former has won four and drawn four against the latter, who has been in charge of four different top-flight teams since Simeone returned to Madrid. Cholo’s Atlético have won 15 of 20 meetings with Athletic in all competitions — and one more victory here will see the boss pass Luis Aragonés on Atleti’s all-time wins register.

Atlético have won the past five home games with Athletic dating back to 2015, and eight of nine at home in LaLiga under Simeone. Current Juventus forward Álvaro Morata scored in the last home game back in October 2019, and replacement Luis Suárez surpassed his 2019/20 goal total in all competitions over the weekend. In fact, Suárez’s 17 goals are one more than Morata and Diego Costa scored combined in LaLiga last season.

The squad

Date March 10, 2021

Location Estadio Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid

Kickoff time 7:00 p.m. CET, 6:00 p.m. GMT, 1:00 p.m. EST, 10:00 a.m. PST

Available TV/streaming Movistar+ (Spain), LaLiga TV (United Kingdom), beIN Sports (United States), DIRECTV Sports (Argentina), DAZN (Italy), Migu (China)