Welcome to round 16 of the Spanish La Liga season and we have some fantastic matches on the schedule with champions Real Madrid visiting Villareal on Saturday. You will find an in-depth preview from our team of football writers on that match as well as the best from England and across Europe. But on this page, we focus on our pick of the weekend in Madrid as Atletico host La Liga leaders Barcelona. The visitors know they have a huge task on their hands here when facing a team that has won the La Liga title more recently than themselves while Atletico need the points to remain in the hunt for silverware.
Will Atletico Madrid put their home advantage to good use and land a valuable three points as the domestic season in Spain returns to full speed? Perhaps you prefer Barcelona to continue their stunning run of form and collect another confidence boosting three points. Our team of football writers aim to help you decide on this game. We present everything you need to make a well-informed decision on the outcome of this fixture. Keep reading as we break down the recent form of both Atletico Madrid and Barcelona, past meetings between the two, league standings, form, injury news and more. We aim to arm you with the knowledge needed to solve this puzzle.
Atletico Madrid and Barcelona lock horns for the first time since the pair played out a stunning six-goal thriller almost a year ago. Barcelona won 4-2 at the Camp Nou in February of last year to level up the score following Madrid’s 2-0 win at this venue in the previous encounter. The stats tell us to expect another competitive match and with thirteen goals scored in the last five games, armchair fans hold high hopes of another free scoring 90 minutes. Will Atletico Madrid bag the three points needed to close the gap on the leaders or will Barca bank the away win and three points needed to remain in pole position? Let’s find out with 22bet’s big-match preview.
Madrid struggle for consistency
Atletico Madrid are a team capable of winning the La Liga and are always well supported by respected pundits making predictions in pre-season, but the home team still have a long way to go. They started the weekend sitting down in fourth place in La Liga with stats for the season showing eight wins, three draws and four defeats with twenty-three goals scored and fourteen conceded. The twenty-seven points amassed from their first fifteen games leaves Atletico behind Barcelona and Real Madrid on thirty-eight points with Real Sociedad sitting third in twenty-nine points against their name.
Madrid still have work to do if they are to catapult themselves into the running for the title, but a chance to beat the league leaders in Madrid won’t be lost on fans. Victory for Atletico would move them to within eight points of their opponents and breathe life back into a La Liga season that is fast becoming a two-horse race. Defeat here certainly wouldn’t spell the end of Madrid’s challenge, but it would make an already uphill struggle almost impossible. That’s all the motivation the coaches will need ahead of Sunday’s match.
Atletico’s recent form doesn’t do much to inspire confidence in the locals. They prepare for this game with their recent stats showing they have won two, lost two and drawn the other in their last five games. They did claim victory in their most recent outing, and it was a crucial three points after Madrid had taken just one of the last nine points available. The spare win came over Elche in Madrid on Thursday 29th December, meaning they finished 2022 on a high. The winning goals that day were scored by Joao Felix and Morata in what was a bad-tempered match that saw three red cards, one for Madrid and the other two for the losing side.
Barca are back in business
It has been a difficult few seasons for followers of Barcelona who have watched through the cracks in their fingers as the famous team stumble from one controversy to the next. Lionel Messi is now a distant reality, but those left behind are beginning to find their feet and challenge for major honours. Barca were ineffective in the La Liga and Champions League last season, but things have changed. They are back in the mix, fighting hard on all fronts, including in the top tier of Spain. Is 2023 the year they return to the top of La Liga as champions? The early signs are promising.
Barca travel for this match with their stats for the season showing a dozen wins and two draws against one defeat with thirty-four goals scored and six conceded. The thirty-eight points collected leaves them level with current champions Real Madrid who trail on goal difference. The visitors are ahead thanks to seven goals but allowed their rivals to close the gap when slipping to a draw in their last outing. That share of the spoils ended an extended winning streak.
We last saw the league leaders in action when they were held to a 1-1 at home by a dogged and determined Espanyol side that entered the match as outsiders. Barca were the red-hot favourites to win that game but found their opponents in a menacing mood and a share of the spoils proved to be a fair result following a competitive 90 minutes. Alonso scored early before Joselu scored a late penalty to level. Both teams finished that match with 10 men as tempers flared near the end.
Atletico Madrid v Barcelona prediction
Madrid has the home advantage for this game, but their recent form is poor and can’t compare to the unbeaten run of their opponents. Barca have won four and drawn one of their last five and that will encourage support in an away win.
La Liga odds
The pre-match betting odds available to 22bet members has Atletico Madrid trading at 3.07 for the victory while Barcelona can be backed at 2.27. Fancy the draw at 3.48?
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