Weekend Soccer Preview - April 18-20
When writing the Weekend Soccer Preview, usually the focus is on the top matches in the top European leagues, be it England, Spain, Italy or Germany. Now to be fair not much has been written about Italian or German soccer this season since Bayern Munich and Juventus are so far in front of everyone else in their leagues. What I haven’t focused much attention on is the brilliance of Atletico Madrid this season.
The fear and a well-founded fear among followers of La Liga was that the Spanish top flight will turn into the Scottish Premier League where FC Barcelona and Real Madrid will trade league titles like Celtic and Rangers do in Scotland.
This is where Atletico Madrid is so refreshing as they are a deserved first place in Spain. They have taken four out of six points this season against Real Madrid and drew against FC Barcelona in their only meeting in the league thus far. From there they have beaten everyone in the league heading into Friday’s match against 15th place Elche.
With five games left in the season and three points up on Real Madrid, the La Liga title is now Atletico Madrid’s to lose. The beauty of Atletico Madrid this season is the fact that they remind me of the 2004-05 Jose Mourinho-led Chelsea team where if Atletico Madrid goes up 1-0, usually behind the brilliance of star striker Diego Costa, the game is over. They will either kill the game off and win 1-0 or add the insurance goal to win 2-0. What never seems to happen is a late goal to tie the game and drop points.
Another massive advantage besides the fact that Atletico Madrid holds the tiebreaker against second place Real Madrid is the fact that they play FC Barcelona on the final week of the season. Usually heading into the Camp Nou to face Barcelona isn’t a good thing but this time it could be different. If FC Barcelona is not in a position to win the league in the final game of the season, I have a hard time believing Barça is going to try and win the match since defeating Atletico Madrid on the final week of the season could mean handing the title over to rivals Real Madrid, which Barcelona would hate to do.
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