We are halfway through the 2020/21 La Liga campaign and Atletico Madrid have continued to prove their title credentials by maintaining a healthy advantage over the chasing pack.
Diego Simeone’s side are definitely emerging as the favourites for the title with a 10-point lead over both Barcelona and Real Madrid with a game in hand with all-best-betting-sites.com and FiveThirtyEight making Atleti the favourites for this year’s title.
Still, there are a lot of games to be played especially with the Champions League coming back into play this month. Can Atletico carry on and clinch their first Spanish crown since the 2013/14 season? Can Madrid or Barcelona recover from terrible first halves of their respective seasons and mount a serious title challenge, or will they focus on Europe?
Here are our predictions for Spain’s top three clubs.
The Blaugrana have recently found form in the league with five wins on the bounce, but Atleti have matched those results. It appears unlikely that they will close the gap on Atleti, barring the Madrid giants suffering a major collapse. Barcelona appear set to go back-to-back seasons without La Liga titles for the first time since 2008.
Elsewhere, on the back of a stellar comeback, they should be favourites to win the Copa del Rey with both Atleti and Los Blancos bowing out early with shock defeats. Sevilla and Athletic Bilbao, who recently beat them in the Spanish Super Cup will be their main competitors.
Meanwhile, the Blaugrana face a tough challenge in the Champions League as they come up against Paris Saint-Germain across two legs. Les Parisiens will be eyeing revenge for the 6-5 aggregate defeat at the same stage four years ago and they could be fancied to come up on top. Both teams have performed below their best in their respective domestic campaigns, but Les Parisiens definitely have more experience in their attack and that could come in handy in splitting the difference between the sides.
Prediction: La Liga runner-up, Champions League round of 16, Copa del Rey winner
Los Blancos went on a stunning 10-match winning run to clinch the La Liga title from the hands of the Blaugrana last term. They have not looked the same unit this season and have suffered untimely defeats just when they have seemed to be gaining momentum. One such example came at the weekend where they suffered a surprise 2-1 loss to Levante which ended their nine-match unbeaten league streak. Hence, they look unlikely to catch up on Atleti and may have to contend with a third-place finish, behind the Blaugrana, who recently leapfrogged them on goal difference after gaining seven points on them in the past five games.
In Europe, Los Blancos should fancy their prospects of beating Atalanta in the round of 16 tie. The capital outfit have suffered exits to Ajax and Manchester City at the same stage in the last two years, but they should overcome the hurdle this time around, though it won’t be straightforward with the attacking threat of Atalanta. However, their campaign may hit a roadblock at the quarter-final stage as their defence is no longer rubber tight. Another potential tie against City could be tough to them to surpass.
Prediction: Third place in La Liga, Champions League quarter-final
Simeone’s side have been exceptional in La Liga this term and they have suffered just one defeat in all competitions. They currently average 2.63 points per game and that is more than any other team in Europe’s top-five leagues. The club can do no wrong at the moment with a healthy 10-point lead over the title rivals which could extend further with the game in hand. While their defensive record has always been strong, they have made an improvement in the attack which has helped them clinch maximum points in 16 of their 19 matches. Even if there is a slump, they should be backed to win the title with the margin of advantage over their main rivals at the moment.
In the Champions League, they have a potentially tricky double-legged tie against Chelsea. The Blues have experienced a poor league campaign which sees them ninth in the Premier League, but there could be a shift in momentum with a new manager in Thomas Tuchel at the helm. On current form, we are backing Atleti to least make the push to the final four of the elite competition, but much will depend on whether they can replicate the defensive resolve shown in the league where they have kept 11 clean sheets and conceded only 10 goals from 19 matches.
Prediction: La Liga winner, Champions League semi-finalist