La Liga remains full of surprises this season. On Saturday, second-place Real Madrid blew a chance to retake the top of the table when they suffered a shocking upset defeat against Levante UD, after previously struggling FC Barcelona blasted five goals past struggling Eibar. With another El Clasico on tap for next Sunday, Atlético Madrid and the "Yellow Submarine" of Villarreal CF will look to start picking up the pieces when they meet at the Wanda Metropolitano on Sunday night, wrapping up the Spanish top flight weekend.
Both teams are standing on the perimeter of the top four, with a clear way in: victory on Sunday. Atlético sits in fifth place with 40 points, level with fourth-place Real Sociedad. Villarreal is positioned two points back, in seventh. But the full three points on Sunday would allow the Submarine to edge into the top four themselves.
In addition to playing at home, the Atléti will have the advantage of Spanish international striker Diego Costa, according to 90min, who makes his return to league play after coming back to face Liverpool in UEFA Champions League action on Tuesday. Though Costa did not figure in the scoring, his presence helped Atlético defend a 1-0 lead on a fourth-minute goal by Saúl, as the Madrid side shocked the defending European champions in the first leg of their Round of 16 tie.
Despite a run of form by Villarreal, unbeaten in their last four La Liga matches with three wins, Atlético Madrid have been installed as clear favorites to win the Sunday match, according to odds posted by 101 Great Goals. The home side enjoys 13-20 odds of an outright victory, while the visitors are listed at 19-4 underdogs, with odds of the match ending in a draw set at 11-4.
The two teams have been matched on nearly even terms over the past decade. In their most recent 21 meetings, Villarreal has won eight, Atlético Madrid seven, and six games have ended with the score level, including a December 6 showdown at Estadio de la Cerámica that saw the two sides struggle to a goalless draw.
Despite their inspiring Champions League win over Liverpool, Diego Simeone's men have struggled with form since the calendar turned to 2020. In six league matches in the new year, the Atléti have won two, lost two, and had two draws, per Soccerway.
The Atlético Madrid vs. Villarreal CF La Liga weekend finale kicks off in Madrid at 9 p.m. Central European Time. In the U.S., where the cable network BeIn Sports will televise the match, kickoff is set for 3 p.m. ET, noon PT.