Champions League is back again tonight with the last set of quarter-finals. Barcelona travel to the Vicente Calderon after completing a comeback last week at the Nou Camp thanks to a moment of madness from Fernando Torres. The second leg is set to be a nail-biting fixture, Atletico have a vital away goal and could go through to the semi-finals with a 1-0 win – but trying to keep a clean sheet by containing the attacking threat of Messi, Suarez and Neymar will be extremely difficult.
Since Luis Suarez joined Barcelona in the summer of 2014 to complete the attacking trio of ‘MSN’, Atletico have lost all seven matches they have played against the Catalan club. In contrast to this, Atleti were unbeaten in the previous six fixtures against Barca. The Atletico defence will have to be wary of MSN in tonight’s match as they will not want to lose their away goal advantage. Despite Torres being sent off last week, Suarez played his usual role of the villain as he appeared to kick out on Juanfran in the first half then go on to score two goals for Barcelona to seal the victory.
I also think that Messi is due a goal as he has not scored in his last four games which is a drought for him. He is 6/5 to score anytime.
Although Simeone’s side are clean sheet specialists (33 in all competitions and they have only conceded 16 in the league all season), Atleti have not kept a clean sheet against Barcelona since their La Liga winning season in 2013/14. The statistics for clean sheets this season still look good and 11/4 for an Atletico clean sheet looks like good value.
As well as stopping MSN from scoring, Atletico also have to score goals themselves and they know a 1-0 win will be enough to get through to the semi-finals. A 1-0 to Atletico is priced at 17/2 and it would see them qualify to the next round of the Champions League.
On the other hand, I think that Barcelona will take advantage of the fact that Atletico need to defend solidly, but also score. In the previous round against Arsenal, Barcelona showed us how quick they are on the counter and this could be shown again tonight. Atletico will have to attack Barcelona tonight because they need to score, which could leave their defence vulnerable. I’m backing Barcelona to score over 1.5 goals at 5/4.
I think that despite Atletico’s efforts and fight, Barcelona will make it eight wins in a row against them tonight. Barcelona are a very good price at 27/20 and I think that 2-1 could be a decent bet at 8/1.
What are your thoughts on tonight’s match?
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