The cat was certainly put amongst the pigeons this weekend as wins for Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid and a defeat for Barcelona blew the La Liga title race wide open.
After a closely-fought encounter in the first leg of Barca’s 1st leg Champions League tie against Atletico last week, another shock result for the Catalonians would surely be unthinkable. In preparation for Wednesday night’s match-up between these two Spanish sides, we preview all the action and try to find some betting value in the process.
From hero to zero
Fernando Torres has had quite the career since he burst onto the scene for Atletico back in 2001.
After finding his way to Liverpool and subsequently dazzling the Kop with his blistering pace and goalscoring exploits, things didn’t go to plan following a big money move to Chelsea and after a few seasons of not living up to his £50 million billing, was ushered to AC Milan and then back to Madrid where he would attempt to rejuvenate his career.
To a certain extent his career has been rejuvenated, the Spaniard has been assured since returning to Atletico last year and after just a few short minutes into Barca v Atleti’s first leg match-up on Tuesday, the baby-faced assassin rolled back the years with a calm finish akin to the ones he would duly despatch during his time at Anfield.
With his Atletico side firmly in the driving seat, it was up to Barca to take the game to an Atletico side who had only conceded 16 goals domestically all season. Homegrown Torres looked on course to be the 1st leg hero for his side until suddenly, a rash challenge on Javier Mascherano (also in the first half) saw him receive a second yellow card and from there on in, the whole dynamic of the match changed with the home side inevitably winning out at the Nou Camp thanks to some clinical finishing from Luis Suarez.
Atletico Madrid: Unsurprisingly, Torres is suspended for this game and his Atletico team mate Tiago is also unavailable after sustaining a broken leg recently.
Barcelona: the away side have more or less a fully-fit roster to choose from this week and will likely line-up in similar fashion to their 2-1 victory over the red and whites last week.
Where does the betting value lie?
It’s arguable that if it hadn’t have been for Torres’ red card at the Nou Camp last Tuesday, the scoreline would not have breached the over 2.5 goal mark.
We expect this one to be a cagey affair and see a 1-1 draw being the most likely outcome which would of course mean that Barca will proceed to the Semi Final stages of the competition.