Atletico Madrid v Barcelona – Preview, Predictions and Best Bets
By BET Contributor
Atletico Madrid host Barcelona at the Estadio Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday night in La Liga. Atletico currently sit three points off the summit with two games in hand whilst Barcelona are languishing in eighth place with just 11 points from their first seven matches. The big talking point would have been Luis Suarez facing his former club but the striker tested positive for Covid-19 and misses the match.
Diego Simeone’s men have made a good start to their league season, winning five and drawing two of their seven matches so far. Los Colchoneros have scored more goals per game than any other team and have the best defensive record in La Liga. They have not lost a La Liga game since February, a run of 23 matches (14 wins, 9 draws).
In their most recent match, one in which Simeone used a less familiar 3-4-2-1 formation, they thrashed Cadiz 4-0. Joao Felix got a brace and Luis Saurez and Marcos Llorente one each. In the Champions League, Atletico have been less imperious as they lost 4-0 away at Bayern Munich a month ago and drew 1-1 away at Lokomotiv Moscow in their penultimate match.
Atletico Team News
Simone has five absences to deal with. The biggest one is that of Luis Saurez, who tested positive for Covid-19 and missed Uruguay’s recent match against Brazil and could miss three or four matches at club level. Ángel Correa is likely to replace Suarez and he tops the club’s assist charts this season with five.
Other players missing are right back, Sime Vrsaljko, wingers Vitolo and Yannick Carrasco and midfielder Hector Herrera.
Joao Felix has seven goals and three assists in 10 appearances this season and could be a good bet to score in this game.
Atleti will play to win this game, likely ceding possession and playing on the break. A victory pushes them right up amongst the league leaders with games still in hand. A draw would not be a bad result and Simeone is not going to throw on extra attackers if the scores are level in the second half. 100% focus is on this game.
They host Lokomotiv Moscow on Wednesday in the Champions League but are in a good position in their group so that game should not take any attention away from this game.
The Catalan giants have had a disappointing start to La Liga with two draws and two losses in their first seven matches. Barcelona were on a four match run without a league win (losing to Getafe and Real Madrid) before a 5-2 win against Real Betis in their last match. Lionel Messi got a brace off the bench – he was carrying a slight ankle problem – whilst Dembele, Antoine Griezmann and Pedri also scored.
With three wins from three in Europe (including a 2-0 away win at Juventus), Barcelona are now on a run of three wins and a draw in their four matches in all competitions since losing to Real Madrid in La Liga
Barcelona Team News
The major injury for Ronald Koeman to contend with is that of winger Ansu Fati, who will be out for four months with a knee injury. He is the club’s top scorer this season and therefore his loss is a real blow.
In midfield, Sergio Busquets is out after an injury on international duty but Phillippe Coutinho has a chance of being return to return after a hamstring complaint. Ousmane Dembele scored in the last game and is pushing to keep his place for this one.
Barcelona really need a victory to close the gap to the top of the log. They are expected to dominate possession in this match and look for the three points. However, after losing two of their last four league matches, Ronald Koeman will want to avoid a defeat at all costs and could be quite satisfied to settle for a point in the second half if Atletico have them under pressure.
Atletico Madrid are unbeaten in La Liga this season (5 wins, 2 draws)
Atleti are 23 matches unbeaten in La Liga (14 wins, 9 draws)
Atletico Madrid have seen over 2.5 goals in 4 of their last 6 matches (all competitions)
Atletico Madrid have kept 5 clean sheets in their last 6 La Liga matches
Barcelona were the last team to beat Atleti at home in December 2019
Atletico are 15 home matches unbeaten in La Liga
Barcelona have won 3 of their last 4 matches (all competitions)
Barca have scored 16 goals in their last 6 matches
Barcelona have seen under 2.5 goals in their last 3 away matches
This is not an easy game to call. Atleti are in great form in La Liga but Barcelona are favourites for this match at 2.40. I can see this being a low scoring draw considering the absences of Fati and Suarez in attack for the two teams.