Soccer Betting: Barcelona vs. Atletico Madrid

Soccer Betting:  Barcelona vs. Atletico Madrid

The Spanish La Liga season ends with a de facto championship game between first place Atletico Madrid and second place Barcelona. Barcelona hasn’t been in great form this season but they’ve done enough to be in a position to defend their La Liga title with a victory here. As the table stands heading in to the weekend’s action Atletico is 3 points ahead of Barcelona meaning that a win or a tie will give them the league championship. Barcelona needs a win which will leave the two teams tied in the points but give them the title based on goal differential.

That’s the simple equation for this game but there are countless subsidiary storylines. The big story on Friday was the announcement that Barcelona had given Lionel Messi a contract extension which might be a ‘consolation prize’ for their fanbase should they fall short of the La Liga title this year. Atletico missed an important opportunity two weeks ago when they could only salvage a draw at home against second tier Malaga. Combined with a loss at Levante last weekend and they’ve put themselves in a tenuous position on the final day of the season. The good news for Atletico is that they’ve been very tough against Barcelona this year–they’re unbeaten in five games against their rival this year allowing a total of two goals. But this is the first meeting of the season at Barcelona’s Nou Camp stadium where they’ve beaten Atletico six straight times by a combined score of 22-4. It’s important to note, however, that the last victory in this string came in December 2012 so its hard to consider it ‘recent form’. Atletico was very good on the road this year with 13 wins 4 losses and a draw. Barcelona was 16-1-1 at home this season.

Atletico is known for frustrating high scoring teams with a conservative defensive style and that’s what we expect to see here. They’ll force Barca to bring the action to them knowing that a draw will get them the title. Prior to the loss at Levante they’d allowed only 1 goal in their previous five road games so they’ve got the tactical defensive skills. We’ll look for this one to end in a low scoring draw.