Barcelona vs. Atletico Madrid - La Liga Match Preview, Estadio Camp Nou, Barcelona Spain, 3 PM EST Sunday December 16, 2012
By Jason Green of Predictem.com
Match Odds: Barcelona 1.25 / Atletico Madrid 10.00 / Draw 600
Moneyline: Barcelona -400 / Atletico Madrid +900 / Draw +500
Over/Under: 2.5 goals
Barcelona is in the lead in La Liga and they have been playing great all season, but they will be without star striker Lionel Messi, who is out for a few weeks with an injury. Still, they are at home and they are HUGE favorites in this match.
Atletico Madrid has been a big surprise this season since most though the La Liga title would come down to Barcelona vs. Real Madrid. However, Atletico Madrid sits in 2nd place in the league table 6 points behind Barcelona and 5 points ahead of a slumping Real Madrid.
Atletico Madrid lost their last Europa League match, but since then they have played great with 2 wins scoring 9 goals and not conceding a goal.
Even without Messi Barca has a great offense and they have scored, by far, the most goals in La Liga. Still, Messi will be missed as he has scored 23 of Barcelona’s 50 goals on the season. With their big gun out Barca will need Cesc Fbregas (5 goals), Adriano (4 goals), and David Villa (5 goals) to step up. With Messi on the sidelines Barca will have to use their ball-control style of play to create scoring opportunities and Atletico Madrid cannot get frustrated even though they will likely be dominated in the time of possession.
Atletico Madrid sits in 2nd place in the La Liga table, but they lost to Real Madrid already 2-0 and this is their first match against Barca. Last season Barcelona crushed Atletico Madrid at Camp Nou 5-0 and then bat them 2-1 on the road in Madrid.
Atletico Madrid has a solid offense, as they have scored the 3rd most goals in the Spanish League, but their D has also been solid only conceding the 3rd fewest goals in the league.
Atletico Madrid striker Radamel Falcao ranks 2nd in La Liga in goals scored and if Barca can keep him in check they will be in good shape. Arda Turan and Ral Garca have combined for 7 goals on the season and they have to help Falcao out on offense.
Thibaut Courtois has 2 clean sheets in his last 2 matches, but can he do that against Barcelona in their house? Not likely, he will play well, but Barca will score at least 2 goals.
Since Barcelona will control the ball Atletico Madrid will have to bide their time and wait for mistakes, which there will not be many of. They will really have to take advantage of counter attack chances, as that may be their best way to score.
Barcelona G Victor Valds has 2 clean sheets in his last 2 matches and I think he will keep one in this match. The last time Atletico Madrid played in a big league match it was a 2-0 loss to Real Madrid where their offenses sputtered and I think the same will happen in this match.
Atletico Madrid Recent Form
11/28/2012 Atletico Madrid 1 Jaen 0 (Copa del Rey)
12/1/2012 Real Madrid 2 Atletico Madrid 0 (La Liga)
12/6/2012 Viktoria Plzen 1 Atletico Madrid 0 (Europa League)
12/9/2012 Atletico Madrid 6 Deportivo La Corua 0 (La Liga)
12/12/2012 Atletico Madrid 3 Getafe 0 (Copa del Rey)
Barcelona Recent Form
11/28/2012 Barcelona 3 Alavs 1 (Copa del Rey)
12/1/2012 Barcelona 5 Athletic Bilbao 1 (La Liga)
12/5/2012 Barcelona 0 Benfica 0 (Champions League)
12/9/2012 Real Betis 1 Barcelona 2 (La Liga)
12/12/2012 Cordoba 0 Barcelona 2 (Copa del Rey)
In their last 10 matches Barcelona has an Over/Under 2.5 goal record of 9-1 and Atletico Madrid is at 3-7.
Jason’s Pick to Win: I think without Mess Barcelona will play a more controlled game and they will have trouble on offense in the first half. However, they have too many playmakers to not score and they will come out strong in the 2nd half and score 2 goals. The Atletico Madrid offense will not crack the Barca defense, as they will not have many shots on goal. Barcelona will win this league match by a score of 2-0 or 3-0.