Lionel Messi looking dejected during Barcelona's La Liga game vs Real Betis

La Liga: Can Barca Get It Together in Madrid?

Atletico Madrid vs Barcelona

These are early days in La Liga, but while Los Rojiblancos are fighting for top spot Barcelona’s first objective is to break into the top seven.

And on Saturday the two Spanish giants meet at the Wanda Metropolitano as domestic football returns to the agenda. Many of the stars who will be on show have been in Nations League and World Cup action, but now they turn their attention to matters at home, where head coaches Diego Simeone and Ronald Koeman have been scheming for two weeks.

Should Los Rojiblancos come out on top they will be in good shape near the summit of the league, while a defeat would leave Barca stranded in mid-table. But if Koeman can mastermind a win, then the Barca charge could be about to begin.

 

Talking Points

Barcelona must be united in Madrid

As things stand, the Blaugrana is in danger of allowing the Madrid sides, along with the highly impressive Real Sociedad, to fight it out between themselves unless they find form soon. Despite blowing hot and cold Real Madrid have stolen a march, five points ahead of Barca, and Atleti are a further point better off, though Imanol Alguacil’s Sociedad don’t look like fading away any time soon.

Barca has been fractured for a while, and things have been a little tetchy again this week, with captain and talisman Lionel Messi saying he’s getting fed up with shouldering the blame for the Blaugrana’s troubles over the past 12 months. Antoine Griezmann’s ex agent, Eric Olhats, has said the Argentine has too much control at the Camp Nou and made it difficult for his former client to settle.

On meeting reporters at the airport on his return from international duty in Argentina, Messi said: “The truth is that I’m getting a little tired of always being the problem for everything at the club. On top of that, after a 15-hour flight, I had the tax authorities waiting for me. It’s madness.”

Well the madness needs to be shelved for a couple of days at least because, with top scorer Ansu Fati sidelined for four months with a knee injury, Messi and Griezmann need to work well together if they are to lift Barca towards the summit.

Griezmann played his part in France’s qualification for the UEFA Nations League finals, though he took a back seat in Les Bleus’ victory over Sweden when Olivier Giroud stole the headlines with a well taken brace. The Frenchman has two goals for Barca this season while Messi has three, one fewer than the injured Fati.

Luis Suarez's positive coronavirus test means he'll miss a reunion with Messi when Atletico play Barcelona in La Liga

Atletico Madrid’s Luis Suarez reacts during their Champions League game vs Lokomotiv Moscow

Suarez out for Atletico

The La Liga 2020 betting odds suggest this is a three horse race, with Los Blancos and Barcelona joined by Atleti, at odds of around 4.00, in the group of potential winners. That may seem disrespectful to leaders Real Sociedad who are at odds of 34.00 and, inspired by the ex Manchester City star David Silva, are scoring for fun. But the big three have form for lasting the course and time will tell.

While Griezmann returns to his old club where he thrived for five seasons, scoring 94 goals in 180 games, the striker who went the other way last summer will be missing. Luis Suarez has tested positive for COVID-19 and will have to sit this one out, which is a blow to the hosts. The Uruguayan’s start at the Wanda Metropolitano has been one of the La Liga 2020 news stories so far, as he joint top scores for Los Rojiblancos with five, alongside Joao Felix. He scored a penalty in Uruguay’s 3-0 win over Colombia last Friday but missed the clash with Brazil and is now self-isolating.

Felix can shoulder some of the burden; he’s in fine form in his second season and looks set to form a profitable partnership with Suarez, but in the meantime Angel Correa is likely to slot into the starting 11. The Argentine forward has already made four assists and will give the Barca defence plenty to think about.

 

History

Barca have won 31 of the 63 meetings between these two teams, since 1993, with Atleti winning 16 and there have been 16 draws.

Last season a sublime late goal from Messi gave Barca a 0-1 victory, but against a side which is unbeaten in five games, and unbeaten in 18 at home, a repeat of that result is a big ask.

Recent form is well matched as both teams have won four, drawn one and lost one of the last six.

 

 

Betting Tip 

??
Atletico Madrid vs Barcelona 1X2 Draw @ 3.35
November 22, 04:00 (GMT+8)

Atleti are at 2.71 with SBOTOP to win this game, with Barca at 2.43; and you can make a case for either. Both teams have a key striker missing in Suarez and Fati and recent form is comparable.

It’s going to be a fantastic contest and I can see the two teams battling it out for a point each.

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (??) BETS ARE WORTH:
?? = €20 (Highly confident) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

 

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