Atlético Madrid (+180) vs Barcelona (+160), Draw (+225)
Atlético Madrid (4-3-0, 15 points) face Barcelona (7-0-0, 21 points) this Saturday (October 14th) for the first heavyweight clash of the La Liga season. Neither side has suffered a loss, but Barcelona’s run has been far more impressive with seven straight wins. They have already established a five-point lead over the rest of the league, and are threatening to run away with the title. Atletico Madrid, currently tied for third in the table, is one of the few teams capable of reeling Barcelona back in.
Considering what’s happening in Catalonia, this will not be a peaceful game. The Catalan giants will travel to the Wanda Metropolitano, Atletico’s new home, where they will undoubtedly be booed and jeered throughout the match. If you don’t think politics has a place in sports, think again. All the anger and animosity regarding the Catalan independence debacle will spill into the game. Atletico Madrid have not allocated any away tickets to Barcelona, so the crowd will be painted entirely red and white.
Barcelona spent the last few La Liga fixtures wreaking havoc on bottom-table teams — 3-0 against Las Palmas, 3-0 against Girona, 6-1 against Eibar. In the Champions League, they trounced Juventus 3-0.
Andres Iniesta, who recently signed a lifetime contract with Barca, believes he’ll be cleared in time for the game. The star midfielder went down during the Las Palmas match with a hamstring injury, causing him to miss two international fixtures. With new recruit Ousmane Dembélé out for the rest of the year, Valverde still needs to find another player to start alongside Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi.
Atletico Madrid played Laganes to a disappointing 0-0 draw in the last round and drew 2-2 with the relegation-threatened Girona to open the season. With three unfortunate draws in seven games, Atletico find themselves six points back of first despite being undefeated.
Atleti were outplayed by Chelsea in the last round of the Champions League, as well, losing 2-1 at home. If they put on a similar display against Barcelona, they’ll pay for it. Defenders Filipe Luís and Lucas Hernández are battling injuries at the moment, which is a huge setback . Luís will remain on the bench this Saturday but Hernández could recover in time to start.
We have to rewind all the way back to the 2009-10 season before finding the last time Atletico defeated Barcelona in a La Liga match. Expect the drought to continue. Take the Catalans, and use a trusted sportsbook when you do.
Pick: Barcelona (+160)