Barcelona host Atletico Madrid in a potential title decider on Saturday. Jake Pearson has previewed the game, providing his best bet and score prediction.
1pt the Draw at 11/4 (General)
Here’s the situation as we stand at the top of La Liga: Atletico Madrid currently lead the way on 76 points, with Real Madrid and Barcelona both just two points back and breathing heavily down the neck of Diego Simeone’s side.
It really shouldn’t have come to this, though, with the title looking all but wrapped up as little as a couple of months ago, Atletico Madrid at the time ten points clear and with a game in hand.
Atleti have tired as the season has drawn to its close, though, and, after winning 16 of their opening 19 matches in La Liga, Simeone’s side have now failed to win in eight of their last 15.
Unfortunately for Atletico, this dip in form has coincided with a huge upturn in form for both Barcelona and Real Madrid, who have lost just three of their last 42 combined La Liga matches, and one of those was against the other.
Real Madrid face a tough fixture at home to fourth-placed Sevilla on Sunday, which adds extra intrigue to the title race, but this fixture puts the league in the hands of both Atletico Madrid and Barcelona.
There may be another twist yet to come in this topsy-turvy La Liga season, but this game really does feel like it could be the title decider.
Both these sides arrive here in similar form, recently speaking that is, with Barcelona losing 2-1 to Granada last week before fighting back to beat Valencia 3-2 at the weekend, while Atletico bounced back from their 2-1 defeat at Athletic Bilbao with a 1-0 victory over Elche last Saturday, though Elche did miss a last-minute penalty.
While Atletico’s strength is certainly at home – they have only lost once at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in La Liga this season – they have also proved themselves an incredibly tough nut to crack away from home, as you would expect from a Simeone team.
Atletico Madrid have conceded just 13 goals on the road this season, a tally that only Manchester City and Lille can better across Europe’s five major leagues.
They may have collected only the third most points away from home in La Liga this term, but they are extremely difficult to score against nonetheless.
There is a huge amount riding on this game, and with the footballing world’s attention shifted to Spain for a couple of hours on Saturday afternoon, we can guarantee it will be a terrible game.
Nerves and caution will likely play a big role at the Camp Nou, and that presents the very real possibility of the game ending in a draw.
Going back to the 2017/18 season, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid have drawn three of their seven meetings, with two of those coming in Barcelona.
To widen the search, games involving two of either Barcelona, Atletico Madrid or Real Madrid over the same period of time have ended level on 43% of occasions, with 10 of the 23 matches involving Spain’s top three teams ending in a draw.
For this reason, as well as the fact that both sides will be desperate to avoid defeat, a price of 11/4 about the DRAW makes plenty of appeal.
In fact, if you like a draw bet, then La Liga is certainly the division to concentrate on, with over 29% of matches ending level this term, more than any of the other five major European leagues.
Score prediction: Barcelona 1-1 Atletico Madrid (Sky Bet odds: 6/1)
Odds correct 1700 BST (06/05/21)
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