Atletico Madrid v Barcelona Preview

Spanish La Liga | Saturday 11 January | Vicente Calderon, Madrid | 21:00





This season the La Liga has been fairly predictable, with the exception of title contenders Atletico Madrid.

They have been on par with champions Barcelona, with just goal difference separating the two.

Real Madrid have battled to maintain the winning form that both Barca and Atletico have shown, and are now five points adrift of the top of the log.

Surprisingly this will be the biggest game of the season thus far. It’s been a long time since a non-clasico was afforded that status.

To Win (90mins)
Atl. Madrid 24/10 
Draw 24/10 
Barcelona 11/10

ATLETICO MADRID

Atletico, who last won the league in 1996, are in a rare position; joint log leaders and five points clear of their
main rivals Real Madrid.

It’s their best ever start to a season, having won all nine of their home games, scoring 33 goals and conceding only six.

That’s 3.6 goals scored per home game and only 0.6 conceded.

Atletico Madrid kept the pressure on Barcelona as they managed a hard fought win away to Malaga last Saturday, with Koke scoring the only goal of the game.

The Spanish international midfielder struck midway through the second half, slotting home after Adrian's shot was saved.

Chances were few throughout as Atletico struggled to break down Malaga's five-man defence.

Malaga had packed the defence with the aim of stifling Atletico.

However, Simeone’s team played well and deserved the maximum points.

After selling their highest goal scorer Radamel Falcao to Monaco for an estimated €60 million, Atletico looked destined to struggle this term.

But they have shown great fighting spirit and remain in position to win the league.

Diego Costa has been Atletico’s star performer this season, leading the goalscoring charts with 19 goals, just one more than Ronaldo.

However, he isn’t the only player that has been brilliant for Atletico; David Villa and Koke have also impressed.

BARCELONA

Barcelona moved back to the top of La Liga on goal difference with a comfortable 4-0 win over Elche on
Sunday thanks to a hat-trick from Alexis Sanchez.

Lionel Messi was once again watching from the sidelines as he nears a comeback from a hamstring injury and Neymar was left on the bench having recently returned from a Christmas break in Brazil.

However, Sanchez and Pedro Rodriguez once again proved able deputies as they slotted home inside the opening 15 minutes.

Xavi Hernandez also missed a second-half penalty for the hosts, but it mattered little as Sanchez rolled home his second goal from Pedro's pass shortly afterwards.

And the Chilean sealed his first hat-trick for the club with a stunning free-kick 21 minutes from time. The title’s a three way race.

However, Barca are still favourites to retain their title under boss Gerardo Martino.

They’ve played well without ever hitting the superlative heights of recent years.

Neymar has settled quickly and Barcelona will be hoping he continues his rise as they have to do without Messi in this crucial encounter.

Betting Prediction: ATLETICO MADRID 24/10
Atletico are looking to break the two-team hegemony. They have already beaten Real Madrid away, but if they can beat Barcelona it will be another huge skittle knocked down on their way to lifting the title. Not bad for a side who were outsiders at the start of the season. That shows how skewed the Spanish title race has become, with Barca and Madrid, winning every title since Valencia’s success in 2004. However, Atletico have played well as a team this season and have shown they have what it takes to snatch the title away from Barcelona. It should be a tight affair but Atletico are tipped to edge the win. 

Written by Wayde Dorkin for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now! 

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