Barcelona host Atletico Madrid in crucial Copa del Rey clash
Barcelona, odds-on 1/2 favourites, will be aiming to continue their impressive run of form when they host Atletico Madrid in their mouth-watering Copa del Rey quarter-final first leg clash at the Nou Camp.
The reigning La Liga champions, 6/1 to win, were toppled by Luis Enrique’s side earlier this month in a 3-1 home triumph, with the Catalans captivating front three of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar all scoring.
However, this was amazingly Barcelona’s first victory over their Spanish league rivals in seven meetings, with their previous win coming in May 2013 when Radamel Falcao and Alexis Sanchez were both on target.
Diego Simeone’s enthralling outfit overcame the current Copa holders Real Madrid to reach this year’s quarter final, securing progress with a 2-2 draw at the Bernabeu in the second leg of their last 16 encounter, following a 2-0 first leg triumph.
The Catalan giants were in imperious form in their last league outing, with Messi again stealing the show as he struck his 30th club hat-trick in a 4-0 thrashing of Deportivo La Coruna. Argentina’s sensational superstar is 16/1 to bag another treble or more against Atleti, having done so back in 2011.
Simeone’s side face a tough task of defeating the Nou Camp outfit, with free-scoring Barcelona winning eight of their last nine home games, and have netted 32 times in those fixtures. Last season’s Champions League finalists Atletico are 11/1 to win to nil.
Enrique recently came under severe scrutiny for his troublesome reign at the Nou Camp so far, but his team have won four consecutive games and scored 16 goals in the process since suffering a shock defeat to David Moyes’ Real Sociedad in their opening game of the year.
Last year’s finalists will be aiming to make up for the disappointment of losing to Real Madrid in the final by going one better this time out, starting with a crucial clash with Atleti in the quarters. Barcelona are 12/1 to secure a 3-1 win, having won by the same scoreline in the two side’s previous encounter.
Returning Atletico favourite Fernando Torres netted a delightful double to seal his side’s progression on aggregate.
The Spaniard also struck up a deadly partnership with fellow forward Mario Mandzukic in his team’s 2-0 victory over Granada, the first time both were paired together in attack since returning to the Vicente Calderon from AC Milan. The former Premier League hitman is 3/1 to score anytime and his prolific partner Mandzukic is available at 9/1 to open proceedings.