| June 23, 2017
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Atletico aim to go top while Real look for goals

Atletico aim to go top while Real look for goals
MADRID, Dec 19: Atletico Madrid will look to take advantage of FC Barcelona's absence and go top of the Spanish BBVA Primera Liga if Diego Simeone's side is able to win away to Malaga on Sunday evening.

Atletico face a side which claimed its first away win of the least with a 2-1 triumph against Rayo Vallecano a week ago but has struggled for most of the campaign, after losing key players such as Samu Garcia, Samu Castellejo, Juanmi and Darder in the summer.

Scoring goals has been a major problem for Malaga, although they have one of the tightest defenses in La Liga have only scored in four of the 15 league matches played to date.

Those problems were evident when they became the only top-flight side to be knocked out of the Cup by lower league opposition this week, following a 1-0 home defeat against Mirandes.

Atletico in contrast have won their last nine matches, have the tightest defense in Spain and in Antoine Griezmann they have a striker who has scored on his own as many goals as the entire Malaga side has netted all campaign.

Real Madrid need a big win at home to Rayo if they are to enjoy a happy Christmas themselves.

Rafael Benitez's side, who enjoyed their traditional Christmas lunch on Friday, lost away to Villlarreal a week ago and the knives are out once again for the coach, despite the support club President, Florentino Perez offered in a radio interview on Thursday night.

Rayo could be just what the doctor ordered for Real Madrid as they travel across town following three straight defeats and with evident problems in a defense which will be missing Diego Llorente, who is on loan from Real.

Paco Jemez has promised his side will play well in the Bernabeu, but their tendency to push up the field leaves space at the back and Sunday could see Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale have a field day in front of goal.

Whether that will cure any long-term ills with Real Madrid has yet to be seen, but if one result is unlikely on Sunday it is 0-0.