Soccer Picks Atletico Madrid vs. Barcelona

Nila Amerova

Thursday, January 9, 2014 3:44 PM GMT

Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014 3:44 PM GMT

The Mattress Makers will have to contend with the return of Messi, but they'll be at home for this La Liga showdown. Who do we like with our soccer picks for Saturday?

Odds Overview

We're used to seeing Barcelona favored by a large margin in the soccer odds, but that's not the case for this weekend's showdown in Madrid.

You can back the Catalans at roughly +125, while Atletico is at +235 or so to win in front of their own supporters. A draw is definitely a possibility here and is priced out at +260 at the top sportsbooks.

Atletico Madrid

The Mattress Makers were in action during the week, as they had to contend with Valencia away in the cup. In the end the match finished at a 1-1 draw, with Helder Postiga's late goal in stoppage time evening up the honors for the home team.

Still, Atletico will have to like their chances of securing advancement into the next round back at home in the second leg. For now though, all of the focus shifts to the welcoming of Barcelona to the Vicente Calderon.

Yet to lose at home this term, the Mattress Makers will be feeling extremely up against the mighty Catalans. They've won all nine matches on their home pitch, while scoring an amazing 33 goals and letting in only six.

Overall, it's been a long time since Atletico lost. You would have to go back to October 19th, when they fell 1-0 away to Espanyol. In the 16 matches since, they've won 13 and drawn three.

Diego Costa continues to light up the scoring charts like it's nobody's business. He's scored 19 goals already in the league campaign – David Villa (eight), Raul Garcia (six) and Koke (four) have also found the back of the net with regularity as well.

Barcelona

Not a bad comeback appearance for Messi.

After coming on in the second half, the Argentinean quickly made an impact, scoring two late goals to put the icing on the cake in Barcelona's 4-0 cup win over Getafe at the Camp Nou.

While he recovered, the Catalans didn't really skip a beat. The likes of Alexis Sanchez, Pedro, Cesc Fabregas and Neymar really stepped up their goalscoring efforts to keep Barcelona atop the La Liga table.

For the season, Alexis Sanchez and Pedro both have 11 league goals, with Messi (eight), Fabregas (seven) and Neymar (six) close behind. Fabregas, the former Arsenal captain, has also contributed a team-best 10 assists and Neymar (eight) isn't too far behind in that area. Notice we haven't even mentioned midfield maestros Xavi and Iniesta either. It's almost unfair how loaded this team is.

A stern test awaits this weekend however. Barcelona has fared well away from home, recording seven wins, one draw and one loss in nine matches (22 goals for, six against), but the Vicente Calderon will one of the toughest environments they've faced.

La Liga Pick

The top two teams in the standings right now, both at 49 points. The only thing separating Barcelona and Atletico is goal difference, with the Catalans (+41) holding the edge over the Mattress Makers (+36) there.

You couldn't ask for a better fixture this weekend, especially with the return of Messi.

But while the superstar's presence is a boost to an already in-form Barcelona side, Atletico has been playing just as well throughout the year. The Mattress Makers have been lethal at home and aren't going to be intimidated in the slightest this weekend. We look for them to get at least a point with one of our soccer picks.

Pick: Atletico Madrid 1 Barcelona 1

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