Atletico Madrid v Athletic Bilbao – Vicente Calderón at 15:45 live at Sky Sports
It’ll be an emotional evening in Madrid on Sunday as Atletico bid farewell to the Vicente Calderon for the very last time after more than 50 years at their famous old stadium.
Just over a fortnight ago the Mattress Makers produced a splendid performance in their final European outing at the Calderon against neighbours Real Madrid and another committed and passionate display should be anticipated here.
Similar occasions in the Premier League over the past 12 months have seen Spurs and West Ham sign-off in style and I’m backing Diego Simeone’s men to repeat that feat and conclude their Calderon era with a victory.
The 2.04 available on Atletico with a -0.50 Asian Handicap start certainly makes huge appeal despite the suspended absence of Diego Godin here. Although Atletico have little left to play having guaranteed third place, it’s unthinkable to believe Simeone will allow his troops to down tools on such a historic occasion.
The club are set to host an extravagant farewell to the old ground, with fans and ex-players expected to be the focus of the celebrations. And the club have also confirmed that supporters will be allowed to take their seats home with them as a memento following the fixture.
The Calderon boasts a wonderful atmosphere and a rather spectacular feature too; the M-30 dual carriageway runs from the South Node Toledo Bridge and passes below one of the grandstands giving it a unique feel and look and supporters will be desperate to enjoy one last party in their historic surroundings.
Since 2012/13 Atletico have won an incredible 71 of their 94 home La Liga ties here – that’s 76% – keeping clean sheets in 60% of those encounters. The hosts have suffered only three losses in 35 league dates at the Calderon too, making a mockery of massive 2.04 quotes here.
The Matters Makers have beaten Athletic Bilbao in six of their last seven head-to-head meetings in the capital and although the Basque visitors are still battling to secure European qualification, I’m not expecting them to pick up a positive result here.
Les Leones were held at home to relegation-threatened Leganes last time out and were beaten at Alaves in their most recent away day. In fairness, Ernesto Valverde’s team deserved more on both occasions but Athletic do tend to struggle when opposed by La Liga’s leading lights.
The Bilbao club have lost nine of their last 11 away to top-six clubs and 15 of their past 20 when travelling to the same standard of side in Spain. In fact, Athletic have lost by at least two goals in 10 of their most recent 17 away days at the top-six suggesting they’ll likely fall short.
Therefore, I’m backing Atletico Madrid to sign-off in style and beat Athletic Bilbao on Sunday evening.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Atletico Madrid -0.50 first-half Asian Handicap at 2.04
Prices correct at time of writing.