Ahead of next Wednesday’s pivotal Champions League Group A ties, this weekend sees only Atletico Madrid in domestic action with Diego Simeone’s reigning champions welcoming sixth-placed Malaga to the Vicente Calderon on Saturday afternoon.
Los Rojiblancos, who currently sit fourth and four points behind table-topping Real Madrid, have triumphed in three of their previous five league encounters and are unbeaten on home soil.
After initially beginning the season in stuttering form, the visitors are in the midst of a five-game winning streak and have catapulted themselves into European contention.
On paper it should theoretically be a routine victory for the hosts but with both teams only separated by two points in the La Liga standings, Saturday’s meeting could serve as a potential banana skin for Atletico ahead of their European clash with Olympiacos in Madrid.
On the other hand, the Super League Greece holders will not take to the field this weekend after professional football up and down the country was suspended indefinitely following a violent attack on a referees’ committee official in Athens last Friday.
Elswhere, with the Bianconeri fully readying themselves to face Lazio on Saturday evening, their upcoming UCL rivals Malmo geared up for the European encounter with a friendly against HJK at the Swedbank Stadion yesterday.
Age Hareide’s men – who reconfirmed themselves as Allsvenskan champions for the 21st time in October – put four past a Helsinki-based outfit that recently beat the Old Lady’s arch-rivals Torino 2-1 in this year’s Europa League group stages.