Soccer Picks: Atletico Madrid vs. Barcelona Super Cup

Nila Amerova

Saturday, August 10, 2013 6:37 PM GMT

Atletico Madrid beat lofty city rivals Real Madrid 2-1 in the Spanish Cup final (Copa del Rey) to qualify for the Spanish Super Cup.

Here is a rundown of this highly anticipated matchup set to kick off the first leg on August 21, 2013 at Vicente Calderon and a week later culminate with the second leg at Camp Nou. Read up on some of the important facts before you decide whether to make Atletico Madrid your choice soccer pick or whether you’d rather fall in line with odds makers and take Barcelona.

Odds stacked against Atletico Madrid in Super Cup

While the odds are stacked heavily against Atletico Madrid in this prestigious domestic clash, they are not completely without a shot at the win. Granted, they don’t have a star-studded bench as their counterparts have but what they lack in ‘superstars’ they more than make up for with heart and grit. They are a club on the ascent, growing in confidence and improving with each season into a unified outfit and that is an intangible that could swing this match in their favour – at least in the first leg where they will have home ground advantage, surely.

As things currently stand, Atletico Madrid are significant underdogs at +350 to win outright at Bet365. Even the draw is similarly out of reach at +280 on the soccer odds boards. While Barcelona is listed as – surprise, surprise – the hot favourite at -138.

This one-sided trend extends through all markets on this matchup. Anything involving score predictions sees Barcelona favoured heavily – a 1-0 or 2-0 win by Barca is priced at +850 while a 2-1 win is priced at +700. Prices on Atletico are meanwhile all in four-digits. Curiously though a 1-1 draw is priced shortest of all at +650.

Of course, Barcelona is one of the best teams in the world – if not the best. That they are listed as the hot faves across all sportsbook platforms to win outright is hardly a shocker. Coach Diego Simeone is under no illusions regarding the stiff test Barcelona poses for his red and white boys but he is optimistic. After all, the odds were stacked against them in Copa del Rey, and didn’t they turn that market on its head. So, this isn’t unfamiliar territory. Question is, can they do it again?

Atletico Madrid defied the odds to beat Real Madrid in Copa del Rey

In what was one of the most stunning upsets last season in Primera Division action Atletico Madrid beat Real Madrid 2-1 in the Spanish Cup final, marking the first time since 1999 Atletico beat its lofty city rivals.

The fractious match featured 14 yellow cards, numerous confrontations and – the coup de grace – both Jose Mourinho and Cristiano Ronaldo were sent off. It goes without saying the night was an unmitigated disaster for Real Madrid. And a singular disaster for Jose Mourinho, his final season at the helm of Real was tainted by humiliation that only further emphasized his trophy-less reign and that led him to dub the season as the worst of his career.

For Atletico Madrid and its fans however, it was the greatest victory in the club’s history. It was the first victory in 26 meetings against the celebrated Madrilenos and even though it was filled with adversity nobody can take away the champagne-induced celebrations from them.

The victory was an extension of the club’s growing success in recent years. Last season was one of the best for Los Rojiblancos in a long time encompassed by a Europa League title and European Super Cup in 2012 before winning Copa del Rey and finishing in third-place in domestic action on the back of a 23-7-8 record and 76 points (nine points adrift of Real Madrid (2nd) and ten points clear of Real Sociedad (4th)).

What has made Atletico so successful – maybe even more successful than Real Madrid in recent years –and led them to lift five titles is the fact that they play as a team. A unified force (sin egos and divas) united in common goals to grow and improve in order to reap the rewards (both emotional and financial) of success. That is an intangible quality that could be potentially an edge over Barcelona.

La Liga Futures Odds & Predictions for 2013 - 14

How high, how far can Atletico Madrid go?

Expectations will be higher this season, naturally. But how high can they climb when they clearly can’t match the spending of the two biggest clubs in the league in order to buy the kind of depth and talent that would make them equals on paper? According to odds makers, who list them as the third favourites at +6600 to win the domestic title, they’ve reached the ceiling of their potential. Are they right?

Preparations for the season and this important test have been moving forward in earnest. Over the summer Atletico Madrid has participated in three club friendly matches. Although they lost the first halfheartedly 1-0 to Estudiantes they bounced back with back-to-back wins over Sporting Cristal and Nacional without conceding a goal.

It’s important that Atletico’s bid for a first trophy on the season is preceded by good form and so it is. It remains to be seen whether they can convert these two victories into a positive start on the La Liga season against Seville on 18 August and how that in turn will affect their stock value for the Super Cup but strictly speaking Atletico Madrid have already exceeded expectations, so is this a side we can so readily underestimate?