On the back of a win over city rivals Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid will aim to all but confirm their place in the top four of the La Liga table on Wednesday, when they travel to take on Elche.
A 1-0 home win at the weekend saw Los Colchoneros move six points clear of fifth place with only three games to go, while a win would also confirm the hosts’ survival.
With 32 points from 31 league games, Elche looked set to be involved in a heated relegation scrap in the final knockings of the season, but they were able to put two crucial results together in April.
Francisco’s side firstly met fellow strugglers Mallorca and dished out a 3-0 thrashing, as Johan Mojica and Pedro Bigas hit goals alongside a Lee Kang-in own goal, before they were able to take all three points from a tough trip to fifth-placed Real Betis.
That game looked set to end as a stalemate, only for Tete Morente to hit the decisive goal in the 82nd minute, helping his side climb well clear of the bottom three and onto 39 points from 33 outings.
Those victories were firstly followed by a commendable 1-1 draw with Osasuna, as Pere Milla earned them a point in the 84th minute, before a trip to Cadiz resulted in a heavy 3-0 defeat at the weekend.
While Francisco’s men will be disappointed by that performance and result, their upturn in form gave them a major head start in the fight to avoid the drop, and, with a seven-point lead over Mallorca with three games to play, they will know that one win will suffice to maintain their top-flight status once again.
They welcome an Atletico Madrid side looking to put a second straight win on the board with the chance to seal a top-four finish, depending on other results.
After a poor start to their title defence, last season’s La Liga champions put themselves in a good position for Champions League qualification with a run of six straight victories between February and April.
Los Colchoneros struggled for consistency slightly after that run, though, as a defeat to strugglers Mallorca put an end to the winning streak, before a victory over Espanyol was followed by a draw with Granada and a 2-0 loss to Athletic Bilbao.
With their lead over fifth place cut to three points ahead of the weekend, Diego Simeone’s men headed into Sunday’s Madrid derby needing a positive result, and they triumphed over the new La Liga champions thanks to Yannick Carrasco’s goal five minutes shy of half time.
With the gap between themselves and Real Betis now back to six points, the capital side know that they can seal a top-four finish if they can take all three points on Wednesday and the fifth-placed side fail to do so in any of their last three games.
Elche La Liga form:
Atletico Madrid La Liga form:
Atletico Madrid form (all competitions):
We say: Elche 0-2 Atletico Madrid
With their confidence restored thanks to an important derby win at the weekend, we back Atletico Madrid to take all three points on Wednesday.
Simeone’s men boast the quality at both ends of the pitch to outclass their hosts, and we do not see them running into too many troubles on their way.