Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid Prediction: A stalemate at Camp Nou?

 | December 02 | 

6 mins read

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One of the biggest games of the season so far in Spain takes place on Sunday with Atletico Madrid heading to the Estadi Olímpic to take on defending champions Barcelona.

With the two teams level on 31 points, but with ground to make up on the top two of Real Madrid and Girona, it’s a pressure game for both Xavi and Diego Simeone. The good news for viewers in the UK is that this one is free-to-air with a 20:00 kick-off on ITV4.

Having dropped points in another underwhelming performance against Rayo Vallecano last weekend in La Liga, Barcelona approached perhaps the biggest week of their season to date with doubts starting to creep in about this side.

Their first challenge was to secure progress from a Champions League group for the first time in three years, something that looked in real jeopardy after half an hour at home against Porto on Tuesday night with the visitors taking the lead. As has often been the way this term, Barca managed to dig themselves out of a hole though with a 2-1 victory sealed by goals from summer signings Joao Cancelo and Joao Felix.

Job done as far as Xavi was concerned, but the Barcelona boss increasingly has his critics. His side haven’t put a truly convincing 90 minutes together since September. The closest they’ve come was in fact El Clasico, when they played well and were on top against Real Madrid for a solid hour, but failed to kill their rivals off before slumping to a late 2-1 defeat.

They remain the clear favourites to win this match and that’s understandable when you consider Atletico Madrid have never won away to Barcelona during Diego Simeone’s 12 years in the job. You have to go way back to the 2005/06 season and a brace from a young Fernando Torres to find the last time Atleti tasted away league success against the Catalan giants.

That record alone suggests you’d have to be brave to back the visitors to win here, but this certainly feels like one of Atletico Madrid’s best opportunities to claim all the points in Barca’s backyard.

Unlike their opponents, Atletico Madrid have frequently combined good results with good performances of late and they claimed an excellent 3-1 away win against Feyenoord on Tuesday to book their own place in the Last 16 of the Champions League.

No side has scored more goals than Atleti in this season’s group stage and statistically, they are out-performing Barca in most areas in La Liga too, with more goals scored and fewer goals conceded than their opponents in the Spanish top flight.

The big question for punters here is whether Diego Simeone will trust his troops to be bold and embrace their current status as La Liga’s unlikely entertainers, or whether caution will prevail and the visitors will retreat into their shell as often happens in what can be quite a cagey fixture.

Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid Tips

  • Draw @ 13/5
  • First Team to Score - Atletico Madrid @ 13/10

Match Odds

Barcelona are favourites to win at EVS here, with the draw available at 13/5. You can back Atletico Madrid to end what’s nearly an 18 year wait for a victory in this fixture at 5/2.

There are plenty of interesting subplots to be found in the goalscorer markets. Joao Felix, who is only at loan at Barcelona from Atletico Madrid, incensed his parent club by openly expressing he’d “love to play for Barca” in the summer. He got his dream move and he’s 7/1 to score first and 12/5 to score anytime against his old teammates and a manager with whom his relationship has almost completely broken down.

The only player whose motivation on Sunday evening might match that of Felix, is perhaps Antoine Griezmann. The Frenchman failed to produce anything like his best football during two seasons at Camp Nou but has scored 13 times in 18 games for Atleti this term. You can back Griezmann to score first at 13/2 and anytime at 21/10.

Team News

24 year old Iñaki Peña looks set to start in goal for Barca for the third match in a row with Marc-Andre ter Stegen still struggling with an injury. Otherwise, Xavi has close to a clean bill of health with Gavi, who tore his ACL on international duty last month, the only other absentee.

The Barcelona boss still has plenty to think about though. Holding midfielder Oriol Romeu has struggled to fill the boots of Sergio Busquets which could see Frenkie de Jong, Pedri and Ilkay Gündogan form a talented, but potentially light-weight midfield trio here.

Things are far more settled in the visiting camp with Atletico Madrid’s best eleven starting to emerge, although there’s competition between the likes of Saul and Marcos Llorente for one midfield place, while defender Jose Maria Gimenez is trying to build up match sharpness after his injury problems.

Thomas Lemar and Pablo Barrios are the only Atleti players who look set to miss this game, but it’s unlikely either would have started had they been fit.

Draw @ 13/5

This is a game that often enjoys a big build-up, but frequently fails to truly ignite. A repeat is certainly possible here. Barcelona aren’t playing the kind of football which suggests they’ll run away with it and we perhaps shouldn’t expect anything too adventurous from Diego Simeone, despite his team’s current free-scoring ways.

Atletico Madrid do have a game in hand on their opponents and would most likely see a point as a good result in a fixture they have a woeful recent record in. Backing the Draw at 13/5 looks like the standout option in the match result market.

First Team to Score - Atletico Madrid @ 13/10

Anyone betting on Barcelona this season, will have noticed their tendency to start slowly and score late goals. They’ve fallen behind in each of their last four matches, making winnable fixtures against Shakhtar Donetsk, Alaves, Rayo Vallecano and Porto, considerably tougher than they might have been.

In La Liga, that trend has been clear with Barcelona scoring just three times in the First Half at home this season with 80% of their goals coming after the break, the majority of them in the final fifteen minutes.

Up against slow starting opponents, backing Atletico Madrid to score the game’s first goal looks a good play.

Find more Football Betting Tips here at Betfred Insights

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