Atletico Madrid has twice as many points as Deportivo la Coruna, but tonight the bookmakers are wrong to credit them with the first chance to prevail. Away from home, they’ve been more of a mediocre team and without one of their most prolific strikers, Diego Costa, all the pressure will bear on Falcao. Granted he is more than capable of single-handedly defeat Deportivo la Coruna in a good day, in the absence of any real goal and with motivation at the lowest levels this season, he is unlikely to play at 100%.
By contrast, the hosts are poised to do their best tonight, because losing to Atletico Madrid could render all their efforts virtually useless. Undefeated in six consecutive rounds, Deportivo la Coruna is still just one point above the relegation line and all three counter candidates are within striking distance. Celta Vigo missed out on the opportunities to build a gap between them and La Coruna after drawing at home and will have to settle for being tied for the 17th place.
The hosts have no less than five players missing and two of them are serving a suspension after receiving a red card in the previous round. The most painful absentee is the Portuguese striker Pizzi who used to pair upfront with Riki and was responsible for most of the goals scored in April. Without him, Deportivo will have to choose between Bruno Gama and Nelson Oliveira and none of them are suitable replacements. Together they’ve scored as many goals as Pizzi so we shouldn’t be surprised if the hosts will choose to use a 5-4-1 starting formation with only Riki in the offensive.
The goal of the game isn’t winning against Atletico Madrid, although this would represent an extraordinary performance, but securing a point at home. They have a relatively easy schedule and not losing against one of the top teams in Primera Division would greatly boost their chances of avoiding relegation. On the other hand, both Zaragoza and Mallorca play at home this weekend and there’s a good chance for at least one of them to secure all three points.
Atletico Madrid would normally start with the first chance, but even the fact that they are 100% of their Champions League berth, the visitors will shift into a less aggressive gear. Falcao is highly unlikely to play 90 min. and in this context, it is only fair to assume that Deportivo will have a decent chance of securing at least a point. Punters can take advantage of this rare opportunity and back the hosts not to lose, with the odds revolving around even values.