Atletico Madrid remain unbeaten under Diego Simeone, but that record will be put to a serious test when los Colchoneros welcome Barcelona to Vicente Calderon. The Catalans go into this game on the back of the 5-1 victory over Valencia and they will fancy their chances in this clash.
Simeone enjoying his time at Vicente Calderon
Having invested considerable funds in new players over the summer it was no wonder Atletico Madrid chiefs had big ambitions before the season started. However, los Colchoneros just couldn’t realize their potential under Gregorio Manzano and the club management decided to part ways with the experienced tactician. Former Atletico midfielder Diego Simeone was brought to replace him and that proved to be a brilliant decision as the team have undergone a genuine resurgence since the Argentine took over the reigns. Los Rojiblancos significantly improved their league position with several convincing performances, whereas they easily eliminated Serie A giants Lazio to reach the Europa League last 16 stage. As we have already mentioned, Atletico haven’t lost a single game since the arrival of Simeone, and the biggest improvement was shown in defence, seeing Atletico kept seven clean sheets in last nine games. There are no doubts everybody at the club would be delighted to see the trend continue against Barcelona.
Adrian Lopez and Eduardo Salvio should be fit to play after shaking off minor knocks, but Arda Turan is doubtful with a thigh problem.
A good test for Barcelona
The reigning La Liga champions may have virtually said goodbye to the league title with the 3-2 defeat at Osasuna, but they are determined to make the most of this season and are eager to keep the spirits high before the Copa del Rey final and decisive Champions League battles. The Catalans recovered well from the league loss to record a 3-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen, whereas the 5-1 victory over Valencia proved that the team plan to take every league game very seriously even if their title chances are slim to none. Pep Guardiola’s side could face a tough task against in-form Atletico Madrid side, but they have got to be considered favourites at Calderon. With Xavi, Iniesta and Pedro all 100% fit, the Catalans are expected to dominate the proceedings against Atletico and a narrow victory looks like a realistic possibility.
Xavi is finally expected to start after fully recovering from injury, but Ibrahim Afellay, Andreu Fontas and David Villa remain long-term worries.
Atletico Madrid have really raised their game under Diego Simeone and they should give Barcelona a real run for their money, but I, nonetheless, expect the Catalans to prevail. I believe that a big win is out of the question, and backing Barca to win by one goal gives you the best value for money.
Our prediction: Barcelona to win by one goal
Odds: 4.00 (3/1)