This weekend's fixture list reaches a crescendo on Sunday night, with top of the table clashes in both Spain and France as second placed Atlético travel to Camp Nou to face title favourites Barcelona and big-spending Paris Saint Germain host Lyon. With the games being played simultaneously it will undoubtedly be an exciting night of football, only made all the more exciting with money on the games, so we focus our attentions on these games, looking at what the best bets will be.
Barcelona vs Atlético
Atlético are falling further and further off the lightning quick early pace set by Barcelona at the top of La Liga this season. They have lost 2 of their last 6 matches and all the while, the Catalans have reached 50 goals after only 15 games, failing to win only once, in a 2-2 draw at home to Real Madrid. Lionel Messi has broken Gerd Muller's goalscoring record for a calendar year, and just about everything seems to be going right for league leaders.
This weekend the two meet at Camp Nou, where Barca have netted an incredible 22 goals in their last 5 league games against Atléti, winning by at least 3 goals on each occasion. However, all of those games came pre-Diego Simeone, who has tightened up the Atlético defence dramatically, and their solid back line has been the basis of their great start to the season, and we are unlikely to see another extremely one-sided affair. Simeone's only encounter with Barcelona came in February and saw an extremely tight affair end in a 2-1 home loss at the Vicente Calderon. Simeone was renowned for his tough-guy approach to the game when he was a player, and he set his team out to rough the opposition up, and try to stifle Barcelona's passing game with lots of heavy tackles that would rile their opposition up.
It very nearly worked, with only a late Messi strike separating the teams, but no less that 13 yellow cards were brandished as tempers flared. The teams have accumulated 37 cards in their last 5 meetings, with that most recent game the roughest of the clashes; that's an average of 7.4 cards per game. Thus, a bet on over 6.5 cards brandished this time around - particularly in light of Atléti being second in the table and looking to grab an all-important win by any means possible - could be money well placed. Odds are 1.72.
Messi's goal at the Calderon in that latest meeting followed up consecutive hat-tricks against Atlético in the previous 2 games between the sides, and he has only failed to score in 1 of the last 7 games between the sides. Atlético are, in fact, Messi's favourite Primera opponents, having scored 15 goals against them in league games, as well as a hat-trick at the Calderon in the Copa del Rey in 2009. With Messi looking to go kick on and make his incredible goalscoring record even more difficult to top, he will be keen to extend his great run here against Atlético. In each of the last 3 games between the sides and in 4 of the last 6, Messi has scored the last goal of the game, and at odds of 3.00 to do so here, there is great value to be found.
Atlético Madrid's only two losses this season have come in tough away trips to Valencia and city rivals Real, with both games ending in 2-0 home wins. While Barcelona have been scoring outrageously this season, and have such a great record against Atlético, a repeat of the 5-0 from last season or the 6-1 from 2008 is unlikely. Simeone will set his team out to, before thinking about going out and grabbing a goal themselves, defend well and stop the Catalans' vast attacking talent. They might well be able to hold out for a while, but the home side will eventually grind them down and should be able to carve out a win. A 2-0 Barcelona victory generates a return of 7.50 times your stake and could be a likely occurrence.
PSG vs Lyon
With Marseille facing out-of-form Toulouse on Saturday afternoon, there is every chance that come Sunday this will be a 3rd vs 1st match-up in Ligue 1, but whatever the result is in that clash, this will be a key game in the race for the title come the end of the season.
This game always seems to bring late drama, and with a great deal of talent on the pitch this time around, we could well be in for more. The last two meetings between the sides have seen Lyon come from behind to rescue a result, with late goals a common theme. There have been no fewer than 11 late goals (after the 73rd minute) in the last 8 games that have pitched PSG against Lyon, with at least one netted in each of those matches, and on four of those occasions a goal has been bagged in injury time. Both teams have scored plenty of goals in the last 15 minutes of games this season (PSG 8, Lyon 7), so odds of 1.73 on a goal after the clock has reached 72:59 are extremely good value.
PSG have though, tightened up at the back this season, and Carlo Ancelotti will be keen to ensure there is no repeat of the 4-4 draw at Lyon that he oversaw not long after taking charge last season. Before he took over, PSG beat Lyon 2-0 at home last term; their 3rd win without conceding in their last 4 home league meetings with Lyon. Furthermore, money bags PSG have kept a clean sheet in 5 of their last 7 games in all competitions and 6 of their last 8 at home in the league. They have won 3 of their last 4 league games resoundingly by four goals to nil, and though that is not all that likely to happen here, a home win to nil - at a price of 2.62 - could well be on the cards.
Clearly, PSG have attacking talent in abundance, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be at the heart of everything they do going forwards once again. He will be tough to stop for the Lyon defence and will likely inspire his team to netting at least a couple of goals, and there is every chance that the home side could run away with it again. Lyon, though, will also look to attack, and will have to hark back to the 7 goals they have scored in their last 2 games against PSG for any hope here. If PSG don't manage to keep that aforementioned clean sheet, the floodgates could well open, and betting on over 3.5 goals overall here could be a money-spinner, at odds of 3.25.