As Real Madrid and Girona sit at the top of La Liga; it is left to Barcelona and Atletico Madrid to hunt them down.
The Chasing Pack
Coincidentally the La Liga fixture computer has done us proud before the weekend, as two of the top four face off at the Camp Nou.
Fourth Versus Third
Barcelona may only be four points off the La Liga pace at present, but there is a sense that four points could be too big a margin this season. Not only are Xavi’s men off the pace, but those four points behind sees them currently sit fourth in the table.
While their points and positional issues are only made worse by an outfit that has gatecrashed this season’s La Liga party and with fellow Catalan outfit Girona refusing to slide down the league ladder, we could be set for one of the more interesting Spanish title races for some time.
Especially as you cannot forget the two Madrid teams that are also looking to be in this season’s title equation. Real currently find themselves top of the shop but only by virtue of a better goal difference than Girona, crosstown rivals Atletico sit third.
Third in the standings and on the same points as the team they will face on Saturday. Diego Simeone’s men make the trip to the Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys having also played a game less than Barcelona.
Therefore, Atletico will not only look to potentially bridge the gap to the two teams that sit above them but also turn the screw when it comes to denting Barcelona’s hopes of successfully defending their La Liga crown.
Hopes that were also dented after the events of last weekend, a visit to Rayo Vallecano’s Estadio de Vallecas should have been one with not much in the way of issues. Unfortunately, a pertinent issue was found just before the break.
Unai Lopez’ goal for the hosts meant Barcelona were behind at the interval and were it not for former Newcastle defender Florian Lejeune putting through his own net late on, Barcelona would have been behind at the final whistle.
Two points dropped for the title holders, that same weekend Atletico managed to grind out a 1-0 home win over Real Mallorca. It certainly was not pretty at the Wanda Metropolitano, but then again it rarely is.
As always, Atletico’s brand of football under their firebrand manager is substance over style. An ethos that was also on show in midweek, as they made light work of Feyenoord in their latest round of Champions League exploits.
But now it is time for the first of my two tips and the score draw appeals to me. Barcelona have dropped points in two of their last four league outings and Atletico are more a do not lose rather than must win outfit. The both teams to score draw can be found at odds of 10/3.
In addition to this, I reckon Barcelona will take the initiative in the first half but will allow Atletico to get back into the game after the break. Half time home win, full time draw seems appealing to me and especially at odds of 12/1.