Jose Mourinho would be loath to admit it but in the last week AtleticoMadrid have well and truly stolen the limelight from their city neighbours Real.
So much so, in fact, that Real Madrid-mad daily Marca actually chose to lead with Atletico’s 4-0 midweek win over Sporting Gijon on Thursday morning.
That rare editorial decision was almost certainly influenced by a desire to bury bad news given Real’s abysmal 0-0 at Racing Santander, but nevertheless, there is a growing buzz of optimism around the Vicente Calderon.
Despite losing Sergio Aguero, Diego Forlan and David de Gea this summer, Atleti seem to have assembled a team capable of some truly glorious football.
Central to this has been the acquisition of striker Falcao. The Rojiblancos invested all the money obtained from the sale of Aguero into purchasing the Colombian from Porto and that decision appears to have been vindicated by his eye-catching start to the season.
Five goals in his last two games, coupled with an earlier strike in the Europa League means Falcao is already on six for the season, and he’s priced at 13/10 to score at any time in Catalonia on Saturday.
Barca, meanwhile, have their own goal-scoring machine in Cesc Fabregas who has set a club record by netting in every one of his first four league games for the Catalans. No-one has ever done that in the side’s history, and the 6/5 offered for him to continue that run at the Camp Nou looks too tempting to turn down.
So with two players in such exceptional scoring form, and a couple of fairly decent other players on show on Saturday night, we can expect goals and lots of them.
Not only that, but they should come early on. In six of their last seven meetings there have been at least three goals scored in the first half.
With that in mind, the 12/5 offered for there to be more than 2.5 goals in the opening 45 minutes is exceedingly generous and should be backed at all costs.
In the 3way result market, a home win is priced at 23/100, with the draw on offer at 21/4 and an Atletico victory available at 8/1.
Although it does not feel right betting against Barca at home (their last game there was the 8-0 destruction of Osasuna), placing a small wager on the draw might not be a bad idea.
In the eight matches they have played in all competitions so far this season, the Catalans have drawn four of them (albeit three of those away from home), yet with Atleti full of confidence and goals, they are more than capable of causing Pep Guardiola’s men a few problems.
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