Attack is the best form of defence for Atlético
Winless Levante will not relish the prospect of playing hosts to Diego Simeone's Atlético Madrid at the Estadi Ciutat de València on Thursday night, despite the visitors being unusually leaky in defence. Sitting in 19th, Javier Pereira's men have not made it easy for their opponents in La Liga thus far to get the points, but nor have they had the cutting edge and psychology required to grind out the results they'll need to avoid relegation. Read our preview here:
Past his Soldado date
The Granotes have found scoring consistently difficult to come by, only amassing slightly fewer goals than games played at the time of writing, despite having former Valencia hitman Roberto Soldado leading the line in a 4-3-3. The 36 year old is relied upon heavily to hold the ball up, but at this stage of his career, can no longer really be counted on to lift his side out of the mire. The versatile figure of José Luis Morales grabbed a brace in the 5-3 reverse at Sevilla, but again, at 34, is not at the peak of his powers in a squad with plenty of experience and insufficient vigour. Centre back Shkodran Mustafi and creative midfielder José Campaña are the only definite absentees in an XI that will seek to keep their adversaries in wider areas.
Whilst the home side might not be the most clinical or sprightly, they can still trouble Simeone's men at the back. Holding a crisis stricken Barcelona at arm's length is their only recent clean sheet, and there will be a firm emphasis on countering Levante and letting runners from midfield join the swarm on the attack. Thomas Lemar is likely to sit out Thursday's match, meaning the identities of the duo behind Luis Suárez will be unchanged, even though João Félix is still struggling for form. Further back, this is a game tailor made for Koke's penchant for threading balls through the lines with superb accuracy. Despite the star names in the lineup, much will depend on his dominance of the ball.
Sim-mering under the lid
Atlético sit three points off top with a game in hand on leaders Real Sociedad, so even with their uncharacteristic defensive wobbles, they are still at the forefront of the chasing pack. Levante aren't the most intimidating of opponents, and the reigning champions ought to use the encounter as an exercise in restoring discipline and organisation in the backline. betway have odds of 2.50 for them to win to nil on the road.