Atletico Madrid v Barcelona Betting PredictionsPublished February 23, 2017
Barcelona’s LaLiga title hopes are already hanging by a thread, but they now face a really tough task by travelling to the Vicente Calderon to face Atletico Madrid, a side themselves struggling.
Real Madrid’s shock defeat at Valencia on Wednesday has opened up more possibilities for Barça, but the league leaders still have a one point lead and a game in hand. The biggest problem the Blaugrana have faced recently is a drop in their ability to control games in the way to which they’ve become accustomed in the last decade. A 4-0 humiliation in the Champions League at Paris Saint-Germain last week came about because the French side got in behind the Barcelona midfield at either side through Angel Di Maria and Julian Draxler.
While Atletico are not as expansive as that, they do have the players to run beyond when they get the ball. That was less of an issue when Barcelona enjoyed 70% of possession in each game, but under Luis Enrique they have become far too reliant on their attacking trio of Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi and Neymar. The point of their play has become to get the ball to them as quickly as possible, meaning they no longer suffocate opponents. Few clubs play with such intensity and energy as Atletico Madrid and if they close the space to the trio, as they did in the Champions League betting season against Barcelona last year, they can take the ball forward and penetrate what has become a weaker midfield in recent months. That isn’t to say Andres Iniesta and Busquets are not world class players, but they are no longer afforded the opportunity to control games in the same way. Antoine Griezmann will drop into outnumber Busquets, too.
There is no doubting Barcelona are going to be a threat going forward, especially with Diego Godin a doubt. But Atletico are the ideal club to exploit the drop in intensity from Barcelona, thus giving them the win.