Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid | Saturday 8th May 2021, 15:15 | La Liga TV
The 2020/2021 La Liga title seems to be the trophy nobody wants to win!
Atletico Madrid flew out of the traps this season with a fantastic 16 wins from their opening 19 games losing just once – to cross city title rivals Real but beating Barcelona in the reverse fixture to this through a solitary Yannick Carrasco strike.
Los Rojiblancos opened up a 10-point lead and had a game in hand at the head of the table but a run of just three wins in nine games coincided with their rivals hitting top form – 41 points from 15 games for Barcelona before slipping to defeat to Real Madrid who haven’t been beaten in the league since January 30th winning ten of those 14 subsequent games.
But after the Catalans fell to defeat against the white half of Madrid, they then surrendered the title initiative by falling to a shock defeat at home to Granada, while Los Blancos, after the defeat of Barcelona, where held to goalless draws by Getafe and Real Betis.
All of which means Atleti remain top of the pile two points clear of both Real and Barcelona who are locked together on 74 points, with Zinedine Zidane’s men hosting fourth place Sevilla on Sunday this really does look like it could be a title deciding weekend.
As is often the case when these two sides collide, we have La Liga’s best attack, only Bayern Munich have scored more goals across Europe’s top five divisions than Barcelona’s 80, against the meanest defence in the Spanish top flight, with only Lille matching the total of 22 goals conceded so far this term.
Interestingly the average of 0.65 goals conceded matches identically to Atleti’s defensive record the last time they won the title back in 2013/14 – that year the result of this match was 1-1 when a Diego Godin header from a corner cancelled out Alexis Sanchez’s opener.
Would Diego Simeone take the same result in 2021? You bet he would!
He knows Barcelona have a phenomenal record at the Nou Camp against his side, undefeated in 20 of 21 meetings in all competitions here now, so with both sides having a clear midweek leading in to this massive game, we should expect plenty of passion, aggression and energy.
A cagey start is likely so I am siding with Lionel Messi and co being kept at arm's length and taking the draw as a half-time result at odds of 5/4 with Bet 365.
With all that I have said in the build up to this match you can probably tell how I expect this game to go, fiercely competitive with the players stopping at nothing to gain an advantage and a positive result for their side added to Simeone prowling up and down the touchline and the fact Ronal Koeman was even sent off recently this should be tasty – in short, we should see cards!
First of all, there is a great history for cautions in this fixture with the last 24 renewals in all competitions having seen at least four cards, with both sides picking up at least three cards each in five of the last six meetings.
Referee Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz is no stranger to either us or this fixture, having been the man in charge on six occasions previously.
The 44-year-old official brandished four yellow cards to Atletico Madrid players the last time he took charge of them and although in his last appointment with Barcelona he only gave them two yellow cards this match should be much feistier than a home game with Athletic Bilbao!
My first card related play is for both sides to pick up over 29.5 booking points with William Hill at odds of 27/20 – it's 10 points for a yellow card, 25 points for a red card with the maximum a player can accrue being 35 points, e.g., for two yellow cards.
As mentioned previously I am trying to end the (major leagues) season with a tasty outsider and so I am sticking with cards for my attempt in this game and pinning my hopes on the most ill-disciplined player in La Liga this season.
Stefan Savic has collected 14 yellow cards in 30 La Liga appearances and was recently sent off in UCL action against Chelsea he has been priced at a huge 40/1 with Sky Bet to get his marching orders from Senor Lahoz and is as short as 17/2 with Paddy Power.
Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid – Half-Time Draw (5/4 Bet365)
Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid – Barcelona Over 29.5 Booking Points and Atletico Madrid Over 29.5 Booking Points (27/20 William Hill)
Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid – Stefan Savic to be sent off (40/1 Sky Bet)