In one of the classic La Liga encounters the joint table toppers Barcelona and Atletico Madrid square off on Saturday afternoon at Camp Nou. Level on points, the two rivals will battle it out for supremacy on top of the La Liga standings.
Having gone on a seven-match winning run Barcelona are waiting for the duel against Diego Simeone’s men feeling more confident than ever. The Catalans are unbeaten since the beginning of October and their impressive stretch in all competitions is reason enough for Barca players to feel confident enough in the game against fellow title contenders. Luis Enrique’s troops have a game in hand and three points from the Saturday highly-anticipated match can be crucial in the title race. Barcelona are returning to La Liga action following their Copa del Rey success against Athletic Bilbao. The Catalans have defeated the Lions for the third time this month and their latest 3-1 triumph saw them record an aggregate win of 5-2 and progress to the Copa del Rey semi-finals. Luis Suarez was the man of the hour as the Uruguay striker bagged his 30th goal this season and he is the first player across top five European leagues to hit 30 goals in all competitions. Suarez has already surpassed his tally of 23 goals from last season, and former Liverpool striker has been one of the most important players in Luis Enrique’s team this season.
Brazilian starlet Neymar is back to full fitness and is poised to start again having missed the Malaga clash.
Arda Turan and Jordi Alba have also shook off their illness and hamstring problem, respectively, and will be at Enrique’s disposal, while Gerard Piques returns from his one-match suspension.
Unlike Barcelona, who enjoyed a successful Copa del Rey midweek, Diego Simeone’s men were eliminated from the competition having suffered a 3-2 defeat at the hands of Celta Vigo and their trip to Camp Nou comes at the worst moment possible. The La Liga champions from 2014 are suffering a dip in form and are currently on a three-game winless run in all competitions. The game against Celta was the first time Atleti have conceded three goals in a single match since their 3-2 defeat to Barcelona last January. It is worth mentioning that Rojiblancos have lost every single of their last five matches against the Catalans and Diego Simeone is faced with a tough challenge against the reigning champions. On the positive note, Atletico Madrid have been in fine form on the road and they will be looking to record their fourth consecutive away win at Barcelona. The January slump in form could force some late winter exits and there is plenty of attention on Fernando Torres, Jose Gimenez and Antoine Griezmann. The latter has been in superb form this season and has already made it clear that he has no intention of leaving Atletico, much to the relief of the Rojiblancos fans.
Diego Simeone will have to do without Angel Correa who will sit out the game through suspension.
Fernando Torres is racing against the clock to recover from an ankle injury, while Tiago Mendes remains the only confirmed absentee.
Key Factors to Consider
- Barcelona have won last 5 meetings with Atletico Madrid
- The Catalans have scored 23 goals in their last 7 matches
- Luis Suarez netted 30 goals across competitions thus far
- Atletico Madrid won their last 4 matches on the road
- Rojiblancos have kept the clean sheet in 5 of their last 6 games
Reigning La Liga champions look unstoppable and unbeatable at the moment and we see great value in betting on the home side. With their trident up and running, the Catalans will pose a great threat to Atletico Madrid, who are experiencing a poor stretch of form.
Verdict: Half-time/full-time home win
Best Odds: 6/5