Atlético Madrid will make the short trek to the Vallecas neighborhood on Sunday night for a clash with local rivals Rayo Vallecano.
Red-hot Atlético (16-6-5, 54 points) are unbeaten in 11 league games. Los Colchoneros look poised to finish in LaLiga’s top three for an 11th consecutive season, especially after securing three crucial points against Champions League chasers Real Betis last weekend. That game saw goalkeeper Jan Oblak tie the club record for appearances made by a foreign-born player, and the Slovene will break the record by playing his 390th Atlético game on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Andoni Iraola’s Rayo (9-10-8, 37 points) are winless in over two months of action but still look primed for another impressive mid-table finish. Rayo dueled Atlético to a draw in the Cívitas Metropolitano earlier this season, as former Atleti hero Radamel Falcao netted a 90th-minute penalty to cancel out Álvaro Morata’s first-half opener.
Rayo last took points from both meetings against Atlético during the same season in 1999/2000 — when Los Rojiblancos suffered an infamous relegation. Atleti have not lost to Rayo at all since a 2-1 defeat at Vallecas in February 2013.
“LaLiga is a long competition,” Diego Simeone told the media on Saturday. “One game can be defining for the season ahead.”
Simeone is likely to make only one change from last Sunday’s win over Betis, with Rodrigo de Paul set to step into the midfield for Thomas Lemar. Ángel Correa, the goalscoring hero against Betis, is not expected to be in Sunday’s squad as he mourns his mother, who passed away earlier this week.
The entire Atleti family is with you Angelito.— Atlético de Madrid (@atletienglish) April 7, 2023
Rest in peace, Marcela Martínez pic.twitter.com/jyRKS9rSkQ
“We’re very respectful of Ángel’s family, and we are here to provide infinite support for him and for his family,” Simeone said. “He’s going through a moment that many of us have had to live through, and he’ll figure it out in the best way with his family.”
It remains to be seen if Correa will rejoin the team for the just-announced midweek contest against Besiktas at Vodafone Park in Istanbul. The friendly will be played Wednesday, when Atlético might otherwise be preparing for a big European fixture, and all proceeds will be diverted to helping the scores of people impacted by the devastating earthquake that rippled through Turkey and Syria in February.
In the meantime, Sunday’s game will give Atlético another chance to look at forward Sergio Camello, who has spent this season on loan at Rayo. Camello has become a favorite of Iraola — he’s started all but four games this season, scoring 5 goals and laying on 4 assists while largely keeping star signing Raúl de Tomás on the bench.
Los convocados por Diego Pablo @Simeone para el duelo en Vallecas. pic.twitter.com/WU3NEUZxJt— Atlético de Madrid (@Atleti) April 9, 2023
Date April 9, 2023
Location Campo de Fútbol de Vallecas, Puente de Vallecas, Madrid
Kickoff time 9:00 p.m. CEST, 8:00 p.m. BST, 3:00 p.m. EST, 12:00 p.m. PST
Available TV/streaming ESPN+ (United States), DAZN (Spain), LaLiga TV (United Kingdom), TSN+ (Canada)