Atletico Madrid are at home to Rayo Vallecano on Sunday night (8.30pm BST), their first league game following the impressive Uefa Super Cup win over Chelsea.
Atletico Madrid have looked impressive in their last three games in all competitions: two wins, a draw and only two conceded. There’s certainly a lot of good coming from Diego Simeone with this side.
It’s not too wide of the mark to suggest that this Atletico Madrid team is good enough to challenge Barcelona and city rivals Real in the league.
Ok, they’re unlikely to match them for points come the end of the season, but they’re good enough to be very close and a good deal closer than Valencia have been over the past three seasons.
The problem is Atletico are not consistent and have never been. Even with Radamel Falcao in the side last season they still finished fifth and just short of Champions League football. Much of that, however, was due to the poor performances under Gregorio Manzano.
But Simeone needs to get Falcao firing in every game – and he is that good. Arda Turan is a magnificent wide attacking player who would not be amiss in one of the biggest teams in Europe. Filipe Luis is probably the best all-round left-back in the league. Adrian Lopez adds a great deal of industry and a good contribution of goals throughout the season. Then there’s the very promising Thibaut Courtois in goal, albeit a loan signing from Chelsea.
Atletico are currently eighth in La Liga after only two games played, with fierce rivals Real sitting one place behind in ninth. It’s a good place to be going into this Madrid derby with Rayo. Simeone should also be comforted by the fact that he has the most settled and best attacking side of all the teams vying for a Champions League place.
Rayo Vallecano are also looking bright at the start of the league season, a similar story to last year.
Obviously the big name in the team has left, as Michu has found a new home in the Premier League with Swansea. But don’t let that take away from a side that has been impressive thus far.
The problem with Rayo is that they don’t look like a team who are going to be without trouble this season. Their good start last year meant little as they only narrowly missed out on relegation on the last day of the season.
One of the promising young players in La Liga is Rayo’s Leo, a 20-year old Brazilian who has a goal and an assist in two games this season. It’s early days, but there is a lot of hope for this player and what he can achieve in Spanish football. Like many young, skilful players, he plays the game without fear. He has plenty of confidence and attacking ability about him and much of Rayo’s good work this season should come through him.
Rayo also took a point from Sevilla in Madrid just prior to the international break. With that they have shown that they can take a stand against some of the bigger teams in Spain.
Atletico Madrid v Rayo Vallecano Betting Tips Verdict
I do believe Atletico to be too much for them this weekend. Rayo will certainly give it a go, but if Simeone can get his team playing as confidently with all the attacking fluidity of recent games, they should have no problem in taking all three points from the game at the Vicente Calderon.