Atletico Madrid vs Barcelona Prediction: Atleti too strong at home

 | March 16 | 

6 mins read

mack sochon la liga tips

Two Spanish football heavyweights clash on Sunday night in La Liga with Atletico Madrid and Barcelona both in good spirits after excellent Champions League wins. The game is live and free-to-air in the UK on ITV4 and ITVX with kick-off at 20:00.

Our Madrid-based Spanish Football expert Mark Sochon is on-hand with his in-depth preview and all of his Atletico Madrid vs Barcelona predictions...

Atletico Madrid vs Barcelona Prediction

  • Atletico Madrid to win @ 13/10
  • Robert Lewandowski 1+ shots on target & Antoine Griezmann 1+ shots on target @ 5/6

Seasons were on the line in midweek but both Atleti and Barca came through Italian tests to progress into the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

Barcelona enjoyed a surprisingly comfortable night against Napoli on Tuesday. Early goals from Fermin Lopez and Joao Cancelo put them in control and on course for a 4-2 aggregate win that was sealed late on by Robert Lewandowski.

Things were much tighter and tenser in Madrid where Atleti were faced with the considerable task of overturning a 1-0 deficit against runaway Serie A leaders Inter Milan. 1-0 soon became 2-0 but with Antoine Griezmann back in the team, Los Rojiblancos produced a stirring comeback, ultimately taking the game to a penalty shootout which they won 3-2 to the delight of a packed out Estadio Metropolitano.

The stadium should be rocking again on Sunday night for the visit of Barcelona. It has served Atletico Madrid incredibly well this season with Diego Simeone’s team winning all of their Champions League home games, as well as 13 of their 14 home league fixtures with the only exception being a 3-3 draw against Getafe.

That’s a formidable record to take into a game like this and it’s one that suggests Atletico Madrid should be right in the hunt for the league title. That’s not the case however, solely due to an abject away record with a desperately poor 2-0 defeat at lowly Cadiz last weekend the latest setback on the road.

While a relatively favourable draw gives Atletico Madrid a genuine shot at progressing into the Semi-Finals of this season’s Champions League, they’ve still got plenty of work to do if they want to be playing in the competition next term.

Barcelona are six points better off and retain an outside shot of defending their league title. However that’s going to be dependent on a few slip-ups from Real Madrid and Xavi’s team are going to need to win even the toughest of fixtures such as this one.

Despite considerable injury problems, Barca are in decent form overall. They’re unbeaten in seven in La Liga, winning five, since the 5-3 home defeat against Villarreal which prompted Xavi to go public with his decision to leave the club this summer.

The Barcelona boss claimed the announcement was designed to ease the pressure on his players and to some extent he may feel vindicated by an improved run of results.

The difference in terms of performance levels is more debatable though. Their last two league games have ended in a flat 0-0 draw in Bilbao against an Athletic side that was missing a number of key players, followed by a scrappy 1-0 home win against Mallorca when only a moment of magic from 16-year-old Lamine Yamal settled the game late on.

Team News

The good news for Atleti is that key man Antoine Griezmann was fit enough to start on Wednesday against Inter and he should also be in the starting eleven on Sunday.

The hosts do have a couple of defensive absentees though with Mario Hermoso and Jose Maria Gimenez both carrying injuries. Memphis Depay, who scored the crucial second goal against Inter, is pushing for a start in attack with Alvaro Morata suffering a dip in form.

Barcelona are missing the midfield trio of Pedri, Frenkie de Jong and Gavi again which makes their midweek result particularly impressive. Alejandro Balde is also out while Ferran Torres and Marcos Alonso are both rated doubtful after relatively lengthy injury lay-offs.

Xavi may go with the same starting eleven that defeated Napoli, although Joao Felix is an alternative option on his return to the Estadio Metropolitano.

Match Odds

Punters can take their pick with not a great deal to choose between the teams in the Match Result market. Atletico Madrid do come in as the 13/10 favourites with Barcelona on offer at 15/8. You can back the Draw at 13/5.

While there was only one goal when the sides met at the Estadi Olimpic earlier this term, the Goals markets point to this one being more open. Both Teams to Score is short at 8/15 while you can back Over 2.5 Goals at 8/13 and Over 3.5 Goals at 6/4 in a fixture where a point isn’t really good enough for either side.

Joao Felix was the scorer of the only goal against his parent club in the reverse fixture and he’s on offer at 11/4 to score anytime on Sunday. Little has gone right for the Portuguese forward since then though and he’s unlikely to get a warm welcome back in Madrid.

If you see tensions boiling over between two of the best teams in La Liga, you can back Over 52.50 Booking Points at 8/11 while Atletico Madrid are the 8/11 favourites in the Team with Most Booking Points market.

Atletico Madrid to win @ 13/10

Atletico Madrid’s home record is just so strong that they feel like the worthy favourites here. They’ve only dropped league points on only one occasion in more than a year at the Estadio Metropolitano with Real Madrid and now Inter Milan among the teams to have fallen to defeats there this season.

They did put in a big shift over 120 minutes on Wednesday night, but Diego Simeone’s side have had sufficient recovery time since then. They also have a bit more depth than their opponents, particularly in midfield given Barca’s injury issues and that’s one area where Atleti will fancy they can have the edge in this game the longer it goes on.

As a result, I’m backing Atletico Madrid to win at 13/10, a result which would strengthen their bid for a top-four finish.

Robert Lewandowski 1+ shots on target & Antoine Griezmann 1+ shots on target @ 5/6

Xavi opted to rest Robert Lewandowski in their last league game with an eye on Napoli and this match, but he’s likely to play the full ninety minutes here. The Polish striker remains Barca’s biggest goal threat and he’s in pretty good form with six in his last eight in all competitions.

At the other end, Antoine Griezmann should spearhead Atletico Madrid’s challenge. He looked sharp on his return from injury against Inter and with the home team likely to have the edge in midfield, he should get the ball in lots of good positions in this game.

It’s the kind of match where both teams should enjoy spells of dominance and I’m using the #PickYourPunt builder to back Robert Lewandowski 1+ shots on target and Antoine Griezmann 1+ shots on target at 5/6.

You can read all our latest Football Betting Tips at our dedicated Betfred Insights content hub.

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