Simeone to end Barca's title aspirations?
Barcelona host Atletico Madrid, desperate to get three points to keep up the pressure on Real Madrid at the summit of La Liga. Most of Quique Setien’s shortcomings since assuming the hotseat at Camp Nou have come on the road, they have continued excellent home form, though that does not look like enough with the current standings. Diego Simeone’s men have risen from sixth to third since the resumption of play, eradicating any doubts of struggling to qualify for the Champions League. The Catalan Giants are strong favourites given then recent home form and record against the Mattress Makers.
Despite only one place separating these two, the gap is 11 points, no amount of Simeone’s endeavour will push Atletico into the title race this time around. Barcelona are somewhat incredibly unbeaten in their last 19 head-to-heads with Tuesday evening’s visitors, winning 14 and drawing five. The Mattress Makers may sense an opportunity to end that rot with the form they are in coming into this one having won four on the bounce, and seeing Barca struggle for consistency with a slightly thin squad as the games come thick and fast. Lionel Messi enjoys taking on Atleti, scoring 25 goals in 27 games against them in La Liga, another key statistic is that the last four head-to-heads have all been goalless at the break. Setien’s men have not yet scored in the opening 41 minutes home since the league’s return and they come up against the division’s second strongest backline tomorrow.
One to watch
Outside of the world class players that immediately spring to mind ahead of this fixture, notably Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez. 20-year-old Portuguese forward Joao Felix will be hoping to make his mark as the world watches, his claim to the La Liga thrown against the ageing legends of Messi and Suarez. Felix has adapted gradually this term since his £113.4million transfer from Benfica in the summer. He has eight goals and two assists in 31 outings, showing his immense potential in flashes. Felix burst back into action with a brace in a 5-0 demolition of Osasuna in his first appearance post the COVID-19 pause of the season, and played a key role in the side’s victory at Anfield to clinch a place in the Champions League’s last eight in March. Betfair price him at 13/2 for first goalscorer.
Barcelona are favourites but have looked out of sorts in recent matches, do not be surprised if Atletico come away from Camp Nou with a share of the spoils.