La Liga Betting: Champions Barça to sneak past Atlético Madrid



Abel Resino was present on Wednesday evening to watch the second of his Atlético Madrid goalkeeping records be beaten by Thibaut Courtois. The 21 year-old, on loan from Chelsea, surpassed the Celta coach's record of 613 minutes without conceding a goal away from home, setting a new tally of 681 as Atlético beat Vigo. The Belgian youngster had previously set a new record of 819 minutes without letting in a goal at the Vicente Calderón. It's Courtois' second season in Madrid and it's clear to see why manager Diego Simeone would like to retain his services on a permanent basis. Having let David De Gea leave for Manchester United, the transfer fee was used to pay debt repayments, whilst they have had an equally capable replacement on the cheap.

"We have to congratulate Barça. The league is a competition all about consistency," Real Madrid's Xabi Alonso told Spanish broadcaster Canal Plus. The 1-1 draw with Espanyol last night handed Barcelona the title without the need to even kick a ball this evening. After the humiliation of the Champions League and the internal battles at Real, there is an underwhelming feeling to the end of the season. But let's not forget the Blaugrana have established themselves as champions after overcoming some sizeable issues. Never before in the history of La Liga had a side gained 55 points out of a possible 57. That fantastic start was derailed by illness to manager Tito Vilanova and a number of injuries. The finer details have been missed when it comes to peaking at the right end of the season as they did under Pep Guardiola - but is it any wonder with their minds on more important issues?

Team news

Simeone doesn't tend to rotate many players, but with the cup final only five days away, he may be forced to. Cata Díaz, Tiago, Arda Turan and Raúl Garcia are all likely to play some part. Barcelona will look to field the strongest team possible, as they have nothing left to play for. Víctor Valdés is doubtful, so José Manuel Pinto may deputise between the posts.

Form

The win over Celta was just Atlético's third in the last seven league matches. With Champions League qualification seemingly secured they have taken their foot off the pedal. Lionel Messi arrived from the bench to give Barça the win over Betis. The score was level at 2-2 before the Argentinean came to the fore, but a brace from him sealed the three points.

Recent head-to-head

Diego Forlán opened the scoring the last time Atléti beat the Catalans three years ago. Barcelona have had the better of the most recent meetings, winning the previous five.

Goalscorer betting

The favourites to grab the opening goal should they play are obviously Lionel Messi (3.75) and Radamel Falcao (5.25) but with doubts over both starting it might be worth looking further afield. Andrés Iniesta is 4.20 to net at anytime and Raúl Garcia is 4.00 to do the same. You could also back a defender - it's 46.00 for João Miranda and 24.00 for Gerard Piqué.

Verdict

The last three games between the two teams have ended 2-1. With Atlético concentrating on the Copa del Rey final and Barcelona not needing a result, it's easy to expect a draw, but Barça will want to put on a performance and prove they are worthy winners. The away side are 1.90 to win.

Bonus bet

Atlético are difficult to break down and as Barça no longer need a win, there could be large periods of sterile possession. Under 2.5 goals is a decent 2.60.

Score prediction: Atlético Madrid 1-2 Barcelona (8.75)