Atletico Madrid will be looking to bounce back from their Champions League disappointment when they resume their La Liga campaign at home to Espanyol on Sunday afternoon.
Diego Simeone’s side are currently fourth in the table, one point ahead of fifth-placed Real Betis, while Espanyol occupy 11th position, 11 points clear of the relegation zone.
Atletico’s journey in the 2021-22 Champions League came to an end on Wednesday evening, as they drew 0-0 with Manchester City in the second leg of their quarter-final, ultimately losing 1-0 on aggregate.
An ill-tempered affair led to clashes both during the match and after the final whistle, but Man City had the last laugh, with Atletico now only having La Liga football to focus on for the remainder of the campaign.
Simeone’s team suffered a surprise 1-0 defeat at Mallorca last weekend, which ended a six-game winning run in Spain’s top flight, and the reigning champions currently sit in fourth spot in the table, just one point clear of fifth-placed Real Betis.
The Red and Whites are only three points behind second-placed Barcelona, though, and will still believe that they can claim the runners-up spot behind Real Madrid, who will surely go on to win the title from this position, as the leaders have a 12-point advantage.
Atletico have the third-best home record in La Liga this season, picking up 33 points from 15 matches, and they will be taking on an Espanyol side that have won just one of their 15 away league fixtures this term.
Espanyol coach Vicente Moreno reacts in October 2021© Reuters
Espanyol suffered a 2-1 loss to Atletico in the reverse match earlier this season, but they have a recent away victory over the capital giants to their name, running out 2-0 winners in May 2018.
The Catalan outfit have won 10, drawn nine and lost 12 of their 31 league matches this term to collect 39 points, which has left them in 11th spot in the table, 11 points ahead of 18th-placed Cadiz.
Vicente Moreno’s side won the Segunda Division last season to return to this level of football, so consolidating back in the top flight was always going to be their priority during the 2021-22 campaign.
Espanyol will enter this weekend’s match in strong form, having lost just one of their last five in the league, recording three victories in the process, although all three of those came in front of their own supporters.
Last Sunday, the White and Blues were 1-0 winners over Celta Vigo, with Wu Lei coming off the bench to net the winner in the 89th minute of the contest at RCDE Stadium.