Atletico Madrid vs Barcelona
|Date & Time||Saturday January 30, 2016, 10:00 AM (EST)|
The Line: Barcelona 1/2 Draw 3/1 Atletico Madrid 6/1
The game of the weekend in Spain and probably across Europe will see second placed Atletico Madrid travel to the Camp Nou to take on the champions Barcelona with both teams level on points and just goal difference seperating them at the moment. Barcelona have played a game less but as is always the case points in the bag are better than those "expected", Diego Simeone's side though come into this game having lost their last five games in all competitions to Barcelona. Atletico and Simeone have been unable to solve the Suarez, Messi and Neymar riddle although one thing that will be crucial is the battle between Uruguay's star two Diego Godin of Atletico and Luis Suarez of Barcelona. Godin is a colossus at the centre of that Atletico Madrid defence who have only conceded eight goals in twenty one league games a remarkable statistic. Atletico's problems though come at the other end where Vietto, Torres and Martinez have all failed to adapt to a suitable partner for Greizmann who is the only prolific player in this squad with twelve goals. Fernando Torres though loves playing against Barcelona and if fit he could be the key man for Atletico. Personally I think Simeone should go with a 4-5-1 neutralise the space in front of Messi and Neymar and allow Torres to play the lone striker role(if fit) supported by Vietto and Greizmann.
Barcelona of course come into this game unbeaten at home and looking to stamp their authority on the league with a win that would put them three clear with a game in hand. The front three of Messi, Suarez and Neymar have been exceptonal of late especially Suarez who has just been brilliant this season. With a midfield of Rakitic, Roberto and Mascherano winning the ball back is not an issue and the possession game that Barca excel in has been helped by a solid if not brilliant defence who can all play football. Barcelona are without doubt the best team on the planet right now, the way they find space and intricate passing is just almost impossible to defend against. Messi and his partners in crime are almost unstoppable right now.
Of course almost is not definite. I think Atletico can hold Barcelona here. Atletico definitely had one eye on this game when playing in the Cup midweek. This is a defence that knows they are in for a real test on Saturday and they will be up to the task. Godin is a warrior and a leader and Simeone is one of the best tactical managers in the world. Tiago will be a loss as the Portugese midfielder will miss out through injury but Atletico should raise their game in this one and I think that a draw is not out of the question for the away side. The value bet for me though is Atletico +0.5 on the first half handicap. While Barcelona may eventually break down the best defence in Spain I think they will hold firm for at least 60 mins, maybe longer.