<![CDATA[This weeks big match-up in La Liga is between last seasons champions and the "other" side from Madrid. Barçelona are looking likely to retain the Liga title this season, last weekend they blew away Osasuna 8-0 before being brought back down to Earth (a little) by Wednesday nights draw away to Valencia. Valencia showed they are no pushovers in that match and they are also the only side to have beaten Atlético in La Liga. Alético have shown goalscoring ability of their own by beating winning their last two matches by 4 clear goals. Barçelonas strength has been examined in great detail over the last year and even though there is a perceived weakness at the back, their strength in midfield means that they retain possession so well, the opposition rarely gets a chance to attack. They aren’t bad at scoring either, even when their only recognized striker isn’t playing, the goals can come from anywhere, Fabregas has scored 4 goals in four games, Messi is as dangerous as ever, Pedro is no slouch in the goalscoring departments (yet to get off the mark in La Liga this season though) and Xavi chips in with a few each season as well. Defence is their weakest point though, Piqué and Puyol have formed a great partnership over the years but Piqué has yet to appear in La Liga this season and Puyol is no longer the player he once was, Busquets and Mascherano have filled in in defence but neither is comfortable defending a dropping ball against a big striker and this is where they could come unstuck against Atlético. Atlético may have lost Sergio Agüero at the start of this season but they have replaced him with Radamel Falcao, a completely different type of striker to his predecessor. A real centre forward with amazing aerial strength and a decent shot on him, falcao was chased by a lot of clubs and it was a surprise he didn’t end up at a more established team, those that looked at him but decided against it may be regretting that now, with 5 goals in his last two matches, he’s taken to life in Spain like a duck to water. Ably assisted by a creative midfield that can contain players like Turkish captain Arda Turan, Brazilian bad boy Diego, former Arsenal misfit José Antonio Reyes alongside more prosaic players like Tiago or Assunção, falcao has thrived on the service he has been given and will surely get a few chances if he is faced up against players like Busquets or Mascherano who have already struggled at times this season. This match could be a real belter and I expect a few goals to be scored, Barçelona are strong favourites to win and I don’t see the bookies being wrong in that so unless you’re willing to take a punt on Atlético causing an upset, we need to be looking at other markets to make a profit from this one.
My top bets are:
- Over +4 – Available at 2.32 with 10Bet*
- Fabregas to score at any time – Available at 2.38 with Victor Chandler*
- Radamel Falcao to score at any time – Available at 4.33 with both SportingBet and Stan James*
- Both teams to score – Available at 1.91 with Stan James*