The meanest defence against the best attack is the one to watch in La Liga this weekend as title contenders Atletico Madrid welcome league leaders Barcelona. The Wanda Metropolitano Stadium will not be very welcoming for the Catalan Giants, however victory for Messi and co. will put a serious marker down in the defence of their title. Form Labs previews the much anticipated clash with their betting tips and if you are looking for some more value for the game then you have to check out our traders selection of enhanced odds!
Title Contenders Clash
This is a massive game at the top of the table as Barcelona’s extraordinary 3-4 defeat at the Camp Nou to Real Betis prior to the international break has opened up the title race. Without pulling up trees, Atletico are right up there and trail the leaders by just a point and this represents a prime opportunity for Diego Simeone to put some pressure on the Catalans. They have a formidable record of W17-D7-L1 at the Wanda Metropolitino in the league, but they’re yet to face a side higher than 10th this term and they drew four of five against the top-six last season. Barca meanwhile, are yet to visit a top-six side but were unbeaten in such trips last term, drawing two and winning three.
Simeone Never Beaten Barcelona In The League
It would be a real statement if Atletico were to prevail but their last home success against one of the Big Two in La Liga was in the Madrid Derby in 2014/15. Furthermore, Simeone has never beaten Barcelona in the league, losing nine of 13 winless matches at all venues, and if he is to end that record then he’s going to have to do it with a depleted back-line.
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Indeed, it could have been a lot worse for Atleti with four key defenders sidelined, but Stephan Savic and Lucas Hernandez are expected to be fit, with the latter likely to play centrally instead of his usual place on the left-hand side. However, the warrior-like Diego Godin and his fellow countryman and centre-back partner Jose Gimenez are both injured. They rarely concede more than once, let alone at all at home, but Bilbao netted twice in their 3-2 defeat here a fortnight ago, and so the likes of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez will be licking their lips at the chance of taking on a rarely fragile Atletico defence.
Rakitic Suspended, Coutinho Fit
Barca are without the suspended Ivan Rakitic and the Croat has failed to start just eight matches since the start of last season, and they’ve split these between draws and wins, sharing the spoils in all three away from home. However, Phillipe Coutinho could be fit, as could Samuel Umtiti and they’ve particularly missed the Frenchman this term, going W3-D3-L1 without him and failing to keep a clean sheet. The Catalan’s usual general at the back Gerard Pique has been poor this season and as a result they’ve looked vulnerable as only five clubs in La Liga have conceded more. As a result, both teams have scored in each of their last 10, and a return of just seven victories from 12 matches is pretty poor compared to their usual strike-rate.
Yet, despite both clubs having their issues they are 1st and 3rd and this will have a massive implication in the title race. Given the frailties of both parties, we’re happy to avoid the match outcome market, with our preference instead for goals. Usually we would be wary going down this rout with Simeone in charge of a big game, but void of his first-choice centre-backs, his usual containing tactics may not work.
Moreover, Barca’s attack has been in scintillating form as they’re the top scorers by 10 goals, but they’re likely to give up plenty of chances to Antoine Griezmann and co. Indeed, both teams have scored in five of the last six meetings between the two, which is our favoured selection ahead of Over 2.5 Goals, as we could easily see a situation where both sides would except a point if it were 1-1 heading into the latter stages of the contest.
Atletico v Barcelona Betting Tips
There is plenty of attacking talent on show, but it’s tough to resist Messi in the goalscorer market when he’s odds-against. Barca have netted 15 times in their last four matches and the Argentina has got three of these, despite only playing 116 minutes. He returned from injury to net a brace against Betis and is averaging a goal every 87 minutes so far this season. Furthermore, Sevilla are the only side he’s scored more against in La Liga than Atleti, and he has an impressive strike-rate of 23 goals from 21 appearances versus the Madrid club, so can take advantage of their depleted rearguard.
Messi To Score Anytime at 2.05
Unstoppable force vs immovable object in top of La Liga clash
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*odds subject to change.