Atl Madrid – Barcelona 11.01.2014
Atletico is coming from a very tough week where they faced Malaga and Valencia away in hard-fought games.
In my opinion they were low disappointing performances with Atletico failing to control both games despite achieving positive results. Last home fixture against poor Levante wasn’t much better with a late penalty securing a difficult victory. They were competitive as usual but missed the creative spark that characterized the previous games giving the sensation of some mental and physical fatigue. Squad-wise they seem ok (with the exception of long-term DM Mario Suarez) allowing Simeone to field his favourite team. RB Juanfran was suspended but a late appeal was successful so his ban was lifted.
Match: Atl Madrid – Barcelona 20.00h
League: Spain Primera League
Our prediction: Away Win Odds: 2.25
Barca had a pleasant week cruising easily past Elche and Getafe with the added value of the return of Messi in style scoring a brace in only 30 minutes. After the two consecutive defeats in Amsterdam and Bilbao the team seems to have found its groove once again with the return of several injured players (Alba, Valdes and now Messi), showing once again good combinations between the players and being able to apply the high pressure a trademark of previous seasons. It also helps the incredible depth of the squad with several quality players in every position. At the beginning of the season Barça was unable to defeat Atletico in the two supercup encounters but it was in the return of holidays right in the middle of the transitional period Tito/Tata Martino and the team was still looking for a solidness that I believe they have already found. I believe this game arrives in a great moment for Barça with an almost fully fit squad, several in-form players competing for a spot in the starting XI and the fresh return of Leo Messi.
It will be for sure a very tight and disputed game but I believe that Barça has much more arguments to grab the 3 points and the leadership here. I’m more than happy to back them with this handicap.