LaLiga: Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid preview


LaLiga leaders Barcelona are looking to secure their road towards the title when they face second-placed Atletico Madrid at Camp Nou on Saturday. The reverse fixture was played in November and it ended 1-1, Diego Costa opened the scoring for Atletico and Ousmane Dembele bagged the equalizer on the stroke of full time. Last season the two sides produced another 1-1 draw in Madrid, but Barcelona won 1-0 at Camp Nou. Overall, Barcelona have won three of the last six matches against Atletico in all competitions and haven't lost any of the last seven games. The last time Atletico defeated Barcelona was in 2016, when they won 2-0 at home in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals.

Barcelona can make a big step towards the title if they beat Atletico in Saturday's match, victory would put eleven points between them and Diego Simeone's men in the league table with seven matches left in the season. In midweek Barcelona nearly suffered a shocking defeat at Villareal, they threw away a 2-0 lead and then fought back to rescue a point from 4-2 down with two goals scored in stoppage time. That result interrupted a string of seven consecutive wins in all competitions. Arturo Vidal is suspended for Saturday's match, while Rafinha and Ousmane Dembele remain sidelined with injuries.

For Atletico Madrid Saturday's match is their last chance to bounce back into the title race, if they win it the gap towards Barcelona will go down to five points with seven games left and anything could be possible from that moment on. However, if they fail to win it the race will be all but over, and also third-placed Real Madrid could move closer to Atletico and fight for second place. This week Atletico secured a 2-0 home win over Girona, their second consecutive win after last weekend's 4-0 away victory at Alaves. Alvaro Morata has a sprained ankle and he will most likely be replaced by Diego Costa, while Thomas Lemar and Lucas Hernandez are out injured.

Probable line-ups:

Barcelona: Ter Stegen - Roberto, Pique, Lenglet, Alba - Rakitic, Busquets, Arthur - Messi, Suarez, Coutinho

Atletico: Oblak - Arias, Gimenez, Godin, Luis - Niguez, Partey, Rodrigo, Koke - Griezmann, Costa

My prediction: Barcelona to win 2-1, the Blaugrana are strong and they will be fully focused to seal the deal for the title in this match.

Here are the odds for the match at Bet365:

Barcelona win - 1.75
Draw - 3.60
Atletico win - 4.75

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