Atletico Madrid have had one of the most airtight defenses in soccer for a while now. Manager Diego Simeone has had Atletico prioritize defense ahead of offense the last few years with Jan Oblak in net, and that has helped the club compete with heavyweights Barcelona and Real Madrid. Atletico are in the thick of things once again this year, and they are currently tied with Sevilla for second place in La Liga. They are three points back of Barcelona and will want to hold their ground when they host Espanyol this weekend.
Don't miss the Spanish La Liga action from the Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid, Spain at 10:15 a.m. ET on Saturday, December 22, 2018. Catch every moment of the match live on beIN Sports.
Spanish La Liga Betting at BookMaker.eu
Atletico Madrid -237
Over/Under 2 and 2.5
For the first two months of the La Liga campaign, it looked like Espanyol might achieve a surprising result. They picked up points against some of the better clubs in Spain, and that had them near the top of the table. Over the last six weeks, they have plummeted back down the table though. They have lost five league matches in a row, and only their loss to Sevilla was even close. Losses to Girona, Getafe, Barcelona, and Real Betis all came by multiple goals.
A draw against Club Brugge last week really stung Atletico Madrid when it came to the Champions League draw. That made them runners-up in their group instead of winners, and they must now face Juventus in the Round of 16 instead of a weaker opponent. The club’s inability to score has plagued them, and that’s why Atletico currently trail in La Liga despite having just one loss on the year. They have settled for draws seven times in 16 league matches, but the Atleti did score three goals in consecutive wins over Alaves and Real Valladolid.
Espanyol center back Mario Hermoso is going to be out for a little bit longer. He suffered a sprained ankle two weeks ago, and he is not expected to return until early January.
Diego Costa is out for another two months for Atletico Madrid, and the team is eagerly awaiting his return. Costa is the yin to Antoine Griezmann’s yang and the two complement each other very well. Interestingly enough, Atletico have looked more productive on offense since his injury though.
Atletico are also going to be without Jose Gimenez for another few weeks, and they might not have Lucas Hernandez or Kevin Gameiro available here.
Player to Watch
Griezmann has been great these last few weeks. It was a coup that Atletico were able to keep him after Barcelona made an over the top offer this summer, and he has looked even better in Costa’s absence. Griezmann notched a brace against Real Valladolid in a 3-2 Atletico win last weekend, and he found the back of the net against Alaves the week prior too.
La Liga Prop Bet – Atletico Madrid Over 1.5 Goals -138
Although Atletico haven’t scored in bunches this season, they have done it over their last two league matches and they are at home for this one too. Espanyol’s once solid defense has fallen apart in recent weeks, and they have allowed two goals or more in each of their last five La Liga games. Not having Hermoso seems to have really hurt them, and stronger teams have overpowered them to get aerial balls.
Free Soccer Betting Pick
I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I like the over in this match since Atletico Madrid is involved, but I think they are going to win the match and go over their team total. This final looks right to me.
Spanish La Liga Odds: Atletico Madrid 2, Espanyol 0
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