La Liga showdown could result in Tata’s Barcelona Bye-bye
As far as Barcelona are concerned there will be no messing around. Tata Martino’s side need a win to steal the La Liga title from Diego Simeone and Atletico Madrid.
The two teams meet each other at the Nou Camp in what will be a tense finale to one of the most exciting Spanish seasons for a long time. Barca are odds-on at 17/20 to retain the trophy they won under former coach Tito Vilanova, who has since sadly passed away after losing his battle with cancer.
Lionel Messi, if on his game, could decide the outcome single-handedly, however he has been marked closely when the two sides have met this season. The Argentine who has 28 goals in the league, is 11/4 to net first, and if he really finds form could hit a hat-trick at 10/1.
If the Catalan club needed any added motivation, then this is it. Atleti, though, have proved to be worthy challengers over the past campaign, and the two teams have fought out tense encounters. Although Simeone’s side were held to a goalless draw at home in the league, they beat Barca in two legs in the Champions League quarter final. With the amount of talent on show, and so much at stake, it could be unthinkable that neither team has any luck finding the net, though in Thibaut Courtois, Simeone has a goalkeeper of world class stature. For the match to end in a non-scoring stalemate, Coral are offering 11/1.
Diego Costa, with 27 strikes in the league, is 6/1 to hit the opener; the odds reflected perhaps by the fact that he hasn’t scored against the reigning champions this term.
Under Simeone though, Los Rojiblancos have the meanest defence in the league, and odds of 10/3 to record a win could be viewed in some corners as generous. Koke, who has been labelled as the man who will replace Xavi Hernandez in the centre of Spain’s midfield for the next decade, carries a dangerous threat.
He netted the winner for Atleti in their second leg Champions League quarter final decider against Barca, displaying his ability for a lethal finish. The script could be written for David Villa to win the club’s first La Liga title since the 1995/96 season. He left Barcelona last summer, and came back to haunt them in the Spanish Super Cup when he opened the scoring. To repeat this feat, and notch the winner he is 9/1.
Real Madrid, who are also in action against Espanyol, could leapfrog Barca and finish second, only if Martino’s men lose. Los Blancos are at 4/11 to win, though may have the Champions League final on their minds; ironically against bitter cross city rivals Atletico.