Barcelona take a 2-1 lead into their Champions League second-leg tie with Atletico Madrid.
A Luis Suarez double helped Barcelona come from behind to win the first leg 2-1 after Fernando Torres had earlier scored the first goal and then been sent off. So its advantage Barca but the away goal at least gives Atletico a chance. They will also be boosted by Barcelona’s recent form, as one point from their last three Liga games has allowed Atletico to close the gap to just three points.
However, Atletico will have to win here to progress and that is something they’ve failed to do in seven attempts since the start of last season – all of which they’ve lost – and which they’ve managed in just one of 19 meetings since 2010/11. Atletico have won their last two league games while scoring eight goals so they are in decent form going forward but for a team that is normally so reliable at the back they might be slightly concerned with having conceded in each of their last four matches in all competitions. Starting centre-back Jose Gimenez has missed the last three of those which partly explains this sudden vulnerability and he’s again absent through injury.
After going six months without a defeat Barcelona have lost back to back league games and are suddenly under a bit of pressure. However, with a relatively easy run-in and a Copa del Rey Final also to look forward to they are still odds-on for a domestic double. Luis Suarez missed the defeat at the weekend and he’ll be welcomed back here having scored 45 times in all competitions this season. That’s eight more than Lionel Messi has but the Argentine has netted six times in their last five UCL matches and along with Neymar it’s hard to see Atletico maintaining their shutout.
Barcelona have not lost a significant UCL match since the start of last season as while Bayern beat them in the semi-final second leg they had got into a position of leading 5-1 on aggregate with 45 minutes remaining before that happened. Moreover, they’ve never failed to score in Europe under Luis Enrique, with 21 goals in 10 away games.
Atletico will surely set out to try and use their away goal and win to nil but we don’t think they’ll be able to manage that and a Barca goal should open the game up. All three meetings between the pair this season have ended 2-1 to the Catalans and while games between the pair tend to be close Barcelona look a good price at 2.3, particularly as Atletico will probably have to chase the game at some point and leave themselves open to the counter-attack. Barcelona to win by 1 is a tempting 3.8 given the competitiveness of their games against each other.
However, our best bet is for at least three goals, which has been the case in four of Barca’s five UCL trips to teams in the top 10 of our rankings since the start of last season as they scored at least twice in all five.
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