Barcelona host Atletico Madrid on Sunday night at the Camp Nou. Blaugrana sits 11 points at the top of La Liga but they’ve had a dip in form of late. Atleti have had a brilliant run of results since losing to Barca in January and could close the gap to the log leaders to 10 points if they won this match. Diego Simeon’s side haven’t won a La Liga match at the Camp Nou since 2006, though.
Barcelona went unbeaten between October and mid-February as they stormed to the top of La Liga. Things have been far less rosy since then for coach Xavi. A 2-1 loss at Man Utd saw their Europa League involvement come to an end before a run of seven league wins was ended by a 1-0 defeat to Almeria. The side bounced back really well by winning five successive matches, including twice against Real Madrid.
A 1-0 win at the Santiago Bernabeu in the Copa Del Rey was later followed up with a 2-1 home victory in La Liga against Los Blancos. However, they’re winless in three right now having firstly lost 4-0 at the Camp Nou to Real in the Copa Del Rey second (4-1 aggregate defeat). They’ve drawn 0-0 in their last two La Liga matches, at home to Girona and away at Getafe.
Barcelona Team News
Xavi has been missing four key players in recent weeks. Pedri is nearing a return from a hamstring problem and is 50-50 to be back for this fixture. Ousmane Dembele has been absent since January with a quad injury but is rumoured to be fit and available for this key match. Frenkie De Jong will return after an injury during the FIFA break but Andreas Christensen is still missing at centre-back.
To make matters worse, right back Sergi Roberto went off injured against Getafe and is now a doubt. Eric Garcia may need to deputise in the back four. If neither Pedri or Dembele are fit, then Ferran Torres could start down the left. Last time out, Xavi moved Alejandro Balde to left winger and used Jordi Alba at left back.
Barcelona knows that a win would open a 16-point gap over Atletico and end their vague title hopes. A defeat could slightly open the door with the gap possibly just eight points to Real Madrid and ten to Atleti by Sunday night.
Xavi’s side have been struggling to score goals of late but their very solid defensive record has been intact. They won’t play an open game and risk allowing space to an in-form opponent on the break.
After losing to Barcelona in January, Diego Simone’s side sat in fifth place and 14 points off the summit. They’ve since been in brilliant form. Their last 12 La Liga matches have brought 10 wins and two draws. They conceded a late equaliser at Real Madrid towards the end of February but have won their six matches since. A 6-1 humbling of Sevilla preceded a 1-0 victory at Girona.
Atleti then beat Valencia 3-0 and Real Betis 1-0, home at home. A 2-1 win at Rayo Vallecano saw two goals in the first 24 minutes. Last time out, Almeria 2-1 at home. Antoine Griezmann scored a brace as Atletico put up 2.33 Expected Goals to just 0.17 xG for their opponents.
Atletico Team News
Atletico remains without long-term injury victim Reinildo Mandava in defence. Memphis Depay has been carrying a muscle injury and remains doubtful for this fixture against his former club. Midfielder Marcos Llorente is suspended for this fixture, a big blow. Thomas Lemar is set to replace him alongside Rodrigo de Paul and Koke.
Angel Correa has been carrying a knock but he should shake it off to partner Antoine Griezmann up front. Alvaro Morata is on standby in case Correa can’t start.
In recent weeks, the side have been very high on confidence and showing complete focus as they look to close the gap to the top two.
They will play to win this match. Although Simeone’s side will defend in a back five at times, they have been more attacking and possession-based of late.
Barcelona are winless in 3 matches (LDD) without scoring a goal
Barca are unbeaten at home in La Liga this season: 11 wins and 3 draws
Barcelona have conceded just 2 goals in 14 home La Liga matches this term
Atletico Madrid have won 8 of their last 9 matches
7 of Atletico’s last 9 victories have been by 1-goal margins
Atletico Madrid are winless in 16 away matches vs Barcelona in La Liga (since 2006)
This is set to be a very tight match. Barcelona are rock-solid defensively at home but they’re not scoring goals right now. Atletico are in fine fettle and won’t be easy to beat. This match has a draw written all over it.
Best Bet: Draw at 3.35
Alternative Bet: Barcelona win/draw double chance + under 3.5 goals at 1.64
Alternative Bet: Barcelona to keep a clean sheet at 2.45