Atletico Won’t Shy From Nou Camp BattleStats
Barcelona v Atletico Madrid
Atletico Madrid leapfrogged Barcelona to move second in La Liga last weekend and the two face-off in a huge game at the Camp Nou on Sunday night.
After suffering a 1-0 loss to David Moyes’ Real Sociedad last weekend – their first defeat in 12 games – Barca bounced back in some style as they hammered the La Liga’s bottom club Elche 5-0 in the Copa Del Rey on Thursday night.
That result meant Luis Enrique’s side have won 11 of their last 13 overall, kept clean sheets in three of the last five and scored more and conceded fewer on their own ground than any other side in the division. The Catalans have also hit a remarkable 30 goals in their last seven games, despite being held scoreless twice in their last five.
Despite recent rumours of issues with his manager, Lionel Messi has been his side’s top scorer this term with 15 league goals, 24 in all competitions and 13 in his last nine games.
In a memorable week for the club that put the champions firmly back in contention to regain their title Atletico Madrid closed the gap on leaders Real to a single point following the latter’s shock defeat in Valencia and then beat their bitter city rivals 2-0 in the Copa Del Rey in midweek.
It’s now three wins in a row for Diego Simeone’s side and they’ve lost only once in their past eleven games.
With five goals in his last two La Liga appearances, French international Antoine Griezmann is now the club’s top scorer in the Spanish top flight this term and has 11 in all competitions.
Former Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen is still yet to make his debut for Barcelona and will sit this one out too as he continues his recovery from a thigh muscle problem with no return date penned as of yet for the Belgian. Legendary midfield duo Xavi and Andreas Iniesta should both return to the starting XI after sitting out the midweek win as should defender Jeremy Mathieu.
Atletico have doubts over midfielder Cristian Rodriguez and defender Cristian Ansaldi while Koke, Arda Turan and Mario Mandzukic are likely to return to the lineup from the start with the club’s prodigal son Fernando Torres likely to be relegated to the bench after starting in midweek.
Head to Head
These sides met a total of six times last season, five of the six ended in draws with the only victory coming for Atletico in the home leg of their Champions League semi-final last April.
Neither team managed to score more than once against the other in any of those games, with a paltry scoreline of 4-3 to Simeone’s men illustrating just how little was given away by either team. It was quite a turnaround for Atleti after they had lost the last six in a row to Barca prior to last season’s games.
Last season’s results against Barca were no fluke for the champions and while the 5/1 on an away win could be somewhat wishful thinking it certainly has a ring of value against a side whose off-field problems seem liable to erupt at any point.
The 4/7 on a Barca victory holds little appeal despite their home form and so the 7/5 on the Double Chance of an Atletico win or draw looks the pick of the bets here while of the odds-on prices Under 2.5 goals at 10/11 stands out like a sore thumb for two sides who’ve found each other so difficult to break down in recent clashes.