Barca Can Pick Off Out of Sorts Atleti6 min read
The international break allowed for Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi to nip off and secure their respective places at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, but now La Liga has returned. Barcelona are perched at the top of the pile with a perfect record, leaving Real Madrid playing catch up after a recent three-game stutter.
Atletico Madrid are coming under fire for their underwhelming performances so far this campaign, with a European loss to Chelsea bringing complaints to a crescendo, but Diego Costa can’t make an impact until January and will have to watch on from the stands. Sevilla find themselves in second, but an away test against Athletic Bilbao will be another test of whether they can continue to scrape victories despite Eduardo Berizzo’s heavy rotation policy. Three big games stand out and there is, of course, plenty of value to be found this weekend.
Atletico Madrid vs Barcelona
Barcelona hold the last remaining 100-per-cent record in LaLiga, but the squad are facing up to the toughest test of their season so far by paying Atletico Madrid a visit on Saturday. Diego Simeone’s men suffered their first competitive defeat in their new Wanda Metropolitano home versus Chelsea in the Champions League before the international break, and Los Colchoneros are yet to hit the performance levels expected of them.
Antoine Griezmann and Angel Correa have shown some creativity at times for Atleti, but there is a predictable and sluggish air to the hosts’ play. They have the odd goal in them, but this certainly isn’t the resilient Atletico of old. Barca, meanwhile, have been consistent and comfortable across their first seven match days, finding ways to break down tough units along the way. Lionel Messi is in exceptional form and arrives at the weekend off the back of a hat trick for Argentina, with the diminutive star set to help the Blaugrana edge a tough contest in the capital.
Barcelona to Win and Both Teams to Score
Over 2.5 Goals
Getafe vs Real Madrid
Getafe have been one of the surprise packages of the season thus far, with Jose Bordalas’ negative and compact approach ensuring that his side are a tough nut to crack. Aside from Los Azulones recording an unexpected 4-0 win against Villarreal, the newly-promoted club haven’t ended a league game this season more than one goal shy of their opponents. Scraping their way to a share of the spoils is turning into their hallmark.
Sevilla needed a little bit of magic from Ganso to scrape a 1-0 victory at Coliseum Alfonso Perez, while Barcelona required a late strike from Paulinho to take three points in a narrow 2-1 win. Real Madrid cannot underestimate how difficult their fellow Madrid-based club can be to play against, and a narrow winning margin for the visitors should be the result. Los Blancos have the quality to part Bordalas’ forces eventually, especially with Marcelo and Karim Benzema available, but Getafe do provide a threat on the counter. Keylor Navas is out due to injury, and Zinedine Zidane will be relieved to escape this game with three points, regardless of the scoreline.
Both Teams to Score (Yes)
Athletic Bilbao vs Sevilla
These two sides have struggled to turn in any convincing performances this season, with Sevilla wriggling with regularity to three points by the skin of their teeth. A late goal from Ganso was needed to beat Getafe away, while a goalkeeping error required to allow Luis Muriel to nick the winner versus Girona at Montilivi. Eduardo Berizzo’s men are yet to find their offensive identity, and against a rather negative Athletic side a draw is certainly likely. The Basque club are winless in their last five competitive matches, with even Zorya defeating them at San Mames in the Europa League.
A long-term injury to Iker Muniain has scuppered Kuko Ziganda’s plans for the home side, with plenty of the responsibility now resting on Inaki Williams and young Inigo Cordoba to try and provide some ammunition for Aritz Aduriz up top. Given that Los Leones are very much a work in progress, however, teething problems should be expected. Ziganda likes to use two deep midfielders to shield his back four, which could provide Sevilla with a tough resistance to break down this weekend.
Under 2.5 Goals