With La Liga leader Barcelona five points clear of second-place Atlético Madrid and 10 points clear of third-place Real Madrid, neither of the sides from the Spanish capital can afford anything less than three points this weekend.
The quality of Barcelona’s next three La Liga foes – Girona, Valencia and Athletic Bilbao do not scream murderer’s row, as they’re all currently ninth in the table or lower – makes it that much harder to imagine the Catalan club slipping up anytime soon.
So let’s preview Atlético-Getafe as this weekend’s most important La Liga fixture.
Atlético Madrid vs. Getafe Odds and Analysis
Tomorrow’s 10:15 a.m. ET game sees Atlético -180 to win. Despite placed a respectable 6th in the table, Getafe is a heavy away underdog at +600. The fixture is priced at +250 for a draw.
The first two things most of us associate with Atlético are toughness and defense, which have been Atleti staples since the breakout run in the ’13-14 Champions League. That year, the club took Europe by storm before falling to Real Madrid in the CL final. Ever since, thanks largely to its defense, Atlético has been one of the strongest teams in Spain, if not the continent.
The formula for success this season has not changed much, as Simeone’s side has – surprise, surprise – given up just 13 goals through 20 matches, the fewest in La Liga. Having been scored on just 16 times, Getafe is another defensive-minded club, and boast the second-stingiest defense in the Spanish league. For those looking forward to seeing Antoine Griezmann do his Take the L dance, you might want to tune in another week.
Atlético won the first match-up of the season between the two teams 2-0 back in September thanks to a brace from Thomas Lemar, one in the 14th and one in the 60th. Getafe had to finish that match with 10 men after Iván Alejo was sent off in the 67th minute. Atlético had possession for 59% of the game and converted two of its five shots on goal, while limiting Getafe’s looks, as Atleti keeper Jan Oblak had to make just two saves.
Antoine Griezmann and Co. have been hot lately, outscoring their last five league opponents 9-3 while notching four wins and a draw. Getafe has also played well of late, with three wins, a draw and a 2-1 loss to Barcelona in its last five.
The question on Saturday at Wanda Metropolitano will be whether Getafe Manager José Bordalás‘ team can generate enough scoring chances on the road to make the rematch more compelling down the stretch than the teams’ first meeting. It’s hard to imagine the visitors pulling off the upset, especially on the road. My (admittedly far from bold) prediction for this one is another game where a goal or two is more than enough for Atlético.
This is nevertheless a match-up worth watching. Getafe are currently in the middle of a cluster of teams from fourth through seventh in the table (between 29 and 33 points), and they can move closer to contention for a spot in European competition next season with an inspired performance.
The 2019 Carabao Cup final (also known as the EFL Cup) is set, as Chelsea will take on Manchester City.
Chelsea overcame a 0-1 aggregate to Tottenham in the semi-finals to advance, while City beat the snot out of Burton Albion by a 10-0 aggregate.
When is the Carabao Cup Final?
The Carabao Cup final takes place on February 24th, 2019 at Wembley Stadium. The time is set for 11:30am ET.
Where to Watch Carabao Cup?
In America, the Carabao Cup is available on ESPN+. In the UK, the match is on Sky Sports.
How to Bet Carabao Cup Final
Manchester City is favored to win the Carabao Cup at 10/11 in most sportsbooks.
Chelsea is offered around 3/1 or 5/2.
Expect both teams to use their best line-ups. Chelsea did not participate in the Champions League this season, nor will they win their domestic league (they’re +21000 odds to win the 2018-19 Premier League right now), and any trophy will help salvage an inconsistent and frustrating first season under Maurizio Sarri.
Manchester City’s second XI is better than 90% of the world’s first, so it’s almost irrelevant who takes the pitch. It’ll be a formidable side. While their focus is still (in order) on the Champions League and Premier League, a trophy against Chelsea could provide good momentum for the rest of the season.
City is the favorite for good reason, and barring some key injuries, should win the Carabao Cup.