September 19th 2010
Atletico Madrid boast a maximum record in La Liga, after winning both league games this season but the match against mighty Barca will be the first real test for them. Following a shock defeat to Hercules, the Catalans cannot allow any more slip ups in this early stage of the season and they simply have to win at Vicente Calderon.
This season couldn’t have had better start for los Colchoneros with Quique Sanchez Flores’ side beating Inter to win the European Super Cup and that success clearly had a big impact on the players’ confidence. Atletico went on to win the first two La Liga games as well, although they could have done without the midweek’s defeat to Aris in the Europa League. Los Colchoneros now face the toughest task possible as they play host to wounded lion that is Barcelona and this is a team they have every reason to fear, having taken a real beating on several occasions by the Catalans. Boss Sanchez Flores is hoping Kun Aguero will be fit to play, so that he can take his place in attack alongside Diego Forlan, and everything suggests the boss will be able to field a full strength line-up. With Aguero and Forlan up front, and Simao and Reyes on the wings, Atletico have got more than enough attacking potential to hurt even Barcelona, but their shaky back line stands no chance against trio Messi-Villa-Iniesta.
Barca, too, started the season with a title, as they beat Sevilla to win the Spanish Super Cup and that success was followed by the comprehensive victory in Santander that saw David Villa score his first goal for the club. The attacking trident of Messi, Villa and Iniesta worked like a charm against Racing and everybody expected an easy win over Hercules but that was not to be as the Alicante side shocked the Catalans and won the game thanks to Nelson Valdez brace. Pep Guardiola’s men didn’t take long to return to the right track as they hammered Panathinaikos 5:1 and they now seek to do something similar against Atletico. With Real winning at Sociedad, Barca simply have to bring three points back from Calderon and that shouldn’t be too big a problem as this side play extremely well under pressure. Both Gerard Pique and Andres Iniesta will be fit to play after shaking off minor injuries.
Atletico have had a bright start to the season with the triumph over Inter serving as a big impetus for los Colchoneros, but this team still lack that edge to successfully match a side like Barca. Atletico’s attacking style of play will only make things easier for Barcelona, who really seem to like playing at Calderon. While a tight game looks on the cards, the Catalans should still emerge triumphant.
Verdict: Away win Barcelona (2)
Best Odds: 8/11
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