Verdict: Both teams to score
Best Odds: 7/10
In what is a heavyweight affair on Sunday night, Barcelona will welcome a high-flying Atletico Madrid to Catalonia.
Starting with the hosts, making a welcomed return to winning ways earlier in the week, Barcelona officially punched their Champions League knockout stage ticket in an eye-catching fashion. Eventually picking up a 2-1 victory against Portuguese heavyweights Porto, Xavi’s men will be desperate to make another statement of intent here. However, showing some inconsistencies on either side of November’s international break, the defending champions face a real uphill battle if they are to defend their domestic crown this season. Winning just a trio of their previous six appearances across all competitions, Barcelona will take plenty of solace from their continued success on home soil. Including their midweek 2-1 win against Porto, Sunday’s hosts have won nine of their first 10 showdowns in Catalonia across all competitions. Currently sat four points adrift of leaders Real Madrid, Xavi’s side will have plenty of pressure on their shoulders here.
Sustaining a long-term knee injury while away with Spain during November’s international break, Barcelona are unable to call upon midfield talisman Xavi for the remainder of the season. Dealing with a recent back issue, Xavi’s side are once again sweating over the fitness of German shot-stopper Marc-Andre ten Stegen on Sunday night.
While attacking talisman Robert Lewandowski might have drawn a blank in eight of his previous nine appearances across all competitions, the ex-Bayern Munich ace will spearhead Barca’s charge this weekend. Despite arriving from Atletico on a season-long loan over the summer, Joao Felix is free to feature against his parent club here.
As for the visitors, while Atletico Madrid might have eventually settled fr a bronze medal finish last season, Diego Simeone’s side have their sights set on mounting a genuine title charge this time around. Following Barcelona in booking their Champions League knockout stage ticket in midweek, Los Colchoneros should find the mood in their camp at a red-hot high. Putting in another dominant display earlier in the week as they cruised their way to a 3-1 romp away at Feyenoord, Atletico have won each of their previous four appearances across all competitions. Opening November with a famous 6-0 victory against Scottish heavyweights Celtic, Sunday’s guests have also suffered just a single defeat from any of their last 14 outings. With that extended purple patch stemming all the way back to September 19th, Simeone’s men will be desperate to lay down another major marker when they travel to Catalonia on Sunday night.
Sustaining a long-term Achilles tendon injury back in September, Atletico Madrid will once again be unable to call upon French midfielder Thomas Lemar this weekend. Likewise, yet to make a single appearance across any competition so far this season, 34-year-old Vitolo still remains on the sidelines.
While ex-Manchester United star Memphis Depay might have made a pair of cameo appearances over the past week, the Dutch international will likely settle for another spot on the bench here. Forming what has been a stellar partnership this season, the duo of Alvaro Morata and Antoine Griezmann will spearhead Atletico’s charge in Catalonia.
Key Factors to Consider
- When Barcelona and Atletico Madrid last met back on April 23rd, Xavi’s side collected a 1-0 victory in Catalonia.
- Likewise, the reigning Spanish champions have won eight of their first nine appearances in Catalonia this season.
- Atletico Madrid have lost each of their previous four matchups across all competitions by an aggregate score of 13-2.
- Sunday’s guests have also lost just one of their previous 14 outings – a run that stems back to September 16th.
- Each of Barcelona’s last four showdowns in Catalonia have finished with both teams finding the net.
With both Barcelona and Atletico Madrid punching their respective Champions League knockout stage ticket in midweek, neutrals could be treated to a thrilling affair on Sunday night. Although Simeone’s men might be tipped as a real underdog pick here, Los Colchoneros are riding what has been an extended wave of momentum. Winning their last four appearances across all competitions by an aggregate score of 13-2, chances could come thick and fast in Catalonia. With Barca seeing each of their previous four showdowns on home soil finish with both teams finding the net, we are expecting a similar outcome here.
Verdict: Both teams to score
Best Odds: 7/10
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