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Cracks already appearing in Messi-less Barcelona, so back Atletico

| 02.12.2013

It may only be two consecutive losses for Barcelona, but having already championed Atletico Madrid to break the Barca/Real Madrid La Liga stranglehold, their 15/2 price to do just this, is simply too tasty to ignore in the circumstances.

Such has been the utter domination of Spanish football’s two bully boys over the past decade that any loss in La Liga is usually greeted with more than a sprinkling of media overreaction.

However, unlike many previous campaigns, there is finally another team who seem capable of muscling in on Spain’s highest domestic honour and unlike other recent seasons, Barcelona are facing up to two months without their talisman Lionel Messi.

Given Barca were already through in their Champions League group, their somewhat uncharacteristic defeat to Ajax is more or less excusable, though a loss to Athletic Bilbao in the top-flight is far more eyebrow raising for the Catalan giants.

While no one can call Gerardo Martino’s side a ‘one-man team’, considering he has the likes of Neymar and Alexis Sanchez in the forward’s department, any team which loses such a remarkably reliable source of goals as Messi is bound to suffer.

Neymar may have won-over many doubters since his costly transfer from Santos, though four league goals from 13 La Liga appearances is still on the modest side and without Messi the 1/2 on Barca retaining the title looks pretty skinny at this juncture.

As for Diego Simeone’s Atletico side, they are not only level on points with Barcelona, but they were also the first team in this year’s Champions League to qualify for the knockout stages.

Their latest 2-0 league win over Elche, made it 16 points from the last 18 available, while they’ve score 19 times and conceded just twice in that run as well.

At 15/2, this is a huge price for Los Colchoneros to prevail and with Signor Gareth Bale hitting the heights for city rivals Real Madrid, their 21/10 to win the title also appeals far more than Barcelona’s.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Christian Crowther

Give Christian a sport with anything remotely spherical in it and he’ll happily while away the hours watching it on the box. However, he’d much prefer writing about, playing or betting on golf, football, cricket, tennis, snooker.... you get the picture.