Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid Predictions, Betting Odds, Picks
- Neither Barcelona nor Atletico Madrid will win the La Liga title this season
- Both clubs are likely to be targeting a top-four finish after difficult spells
- Barcelona have a good record against Atletico and could triumph here
Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid Odds
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Busy January for Barcelona Gives Xavi More Squad Options
It is often said that a new manager needs at least a couple of transfer windows to shape the squad to his liking. Xavi Hernandez has now had one, and Barcelona were able to get plenty of business done despite their well-documented financial constraints. Ferran Torres arrived on New Year’s Day, the day the January transfer market opened, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Adama Traore followed towards the end of the winter window. Dani Alves, for whom a deal was agreed in November, only became eligible to play at the start of 2022.
The arrival of Aubameyang has raised eyebrows in Catalonia. “[He] will kill you in open space,” a club legend said of the Gabon international two years ago. “But Barcelona need players who know how to move in small spaces. It’s not easy to think of players who have adapted well to Barca. Samuel Eto’o was perfect, as is Luis Suarez right now.”
That club legend is now in charge at the Camp Nou. Xavi’s description of Aubameyang was not entirely without merit, albeit a little simplistic (his dismissal of Sadio Mane in the same interview was more questionable). The former midfielder, who was the symbol of the extraordinarily successful Barcelona side of 2008-12, has always been seen as a soccer idealist. For the first time we are seeing signs of pragmatism from Xavi.
Barcelona’s work in the January window gives the manager more options going forward. In their own ways Torres, Traore and Aubameyang are all fast, direct forwards. That suggests Barcelona will not play the sort of patient, possession-heavy soccer Xavi has long advocated. There are elements of ‘Nixon goes to China’ about this shift, and it will be intriguing to see whether or not it works.
Atletico Madrid Have Picked up Form After Dismal December
As Diego Simeone celebrated his 10th anniversary as Atletico Madrid manager in December, his team were breaking new ground – and not in a good way. A 2-1 defeat by Granada in Atletico’s final fixture before the winter break meant Simeone’s side had lost four league games on the bounce for the first time in the Argentine’s tenure. That run of results meant the Colchoneros’ title defense was over before Christmas.
Atletico have picked up since the turn of the year, taking seven points from the last nine available in La Liga. The title is still out of reach – even if they win their game in hand Atletico will be 11 points adrift of Real Madrid at the summit of the standings – but Simeone’s charges are at least back in the top four. Qualifying for the Champions League would be far from a disastrous outcome, even if a title tilt was expected at the Estadio Wanda Metropolitano last summer.
This is arguably the strongest squad in Atletico’s history, but that has caused issues of its own. When they won the league in 2013/14, it was easy to predict Simeone’s starting XI in advance. The long-serving manager now has more options at his disposal, and Atletico’s roster contains plenty of attacking talent. But Simeone is still searching for the right balance, and this weekend’s trip to Catalonia will be a big test for his team.
Barcelona Tend To Get the Better of Atletico at Camp Nou
One of the most important things Simeone did early on in his tenure was to end Atletico’s inferiority complex against Real Madrid. In 2013 Atletico beat their neighbors in the Copa del Rey final, ending a run of 14 years without victory over their rivals. The fact the hoodoo was smashed on such a big stage only made it sweeter still.
The following year Atletico drew 2-2 at the Camp Nou on the final day of the season to win the La Liga title. It was they, not Barcelona, who were celebrating at the end of that match, even though Atletico did not win. But the Camp Nou has seldom been a happy hunting ground in the last 15 years or so: the Colchoneros have not beaten Barcelona away from home since 1996.
Records are there to be broken and Atletico’s barren run will come to an end at some point. But now that Xavi has had an extended period to work with his players, we are likely to see a strong showing from Barcelona this weekend. That, combined with home advantage, means it is worth backing Xavi to get the better of Simeone on this occasion.
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How to Watch Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid
|Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid Information|
|Teams||Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid|
|Location||Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain|
|Time||Sunday, 6 February 2022, 10.15 AM EST|
|How to watch||ESPN|