Soccer Picks for Espanyol vs. Atletico Madrid: Reigning La Liga Champions are Favored on the Road

Nikki Adams

Friday, March 13, 2015 1:48 PM GMT

Friday, Mar. 13, 2015 1:48 PM GMT

Atletico Madrid will look to return to winning form when they travel to Espanyol this weekend. With Primera Division soccer odds in full swing across online sports betting shops, we weigh in on this clash and serve up our choice soccer picks.

Atletico Madrid Look To Bounce Back
Spanish title holders Atletico Madrid are coming off a disappointing 1-1 draw to Valencia at the Calderon last weekend, a misstep that saw them slip seven points behind Barcelona, who took all three points in a merciless 6-1 win over Rayo Vallecano on the same day. The draw marks just the fifth point in four games for Atletico since their memorable 4-0 routing of Real in the Madrid derby, a run of form that also allowed Valencia, in fourth place, to steadily close the gap between them to just a point.

According to market valuations, Atletico Madrid look unlikely to retain their crown. Priced at staggering +2800 Soccer Odds, they are well behind the favoured tandem of Barcelona (-175) and Real Madrid (+138). Consider los Rojiblancos never really got their due respect in soccer betting markets last season, despite leading the charge in the table for the better part of their title wining campaign, being snubbed so may be a blessing in disguise.

However, Diego Simeone apparently confirmed this outlook after the disappointing draw to Valencia, insisting his side is out of the title race and that it's indeed a two-horse race as portrayed by odds makers. Now, the volatile manager could be just paying lip service. It could also just be a clever Mourinhoesque ploy to deflect the pressure on his lads, which is only going to increase as the season winds down.

To be fair, though, before the reigning champions can truly consider where they are in the context of the title race, their priority is to remain inside the top four. Needless to say, Valencia are crowding their style in the table while Sevilla aren't too far off either and that's simply not going to cut it.

In more ways than one, the weekend's game against Espanyol has the potential to be season-defying. Oddsmakers have it as an opportunity for Atletico Madrid to take all three points – they are trading as the +115 road favorites while Espanyol are priced as the +280 home underdogs – but Simeone is going to have to be mindful the upcoming second leg of his side's Champions League Round of 16 tie with Bayer Leverkusen. It remains to be seen how much he'll risk when he's faced with what could be an elimination game against Bayer.


Espanyol Huge Underdogs
Espanyol are huge underdogs for good reason. Not only is recent form a cause for concern, but they are also taking on the Spanish holders, a side with a lot more depth and quality than they have and that is going to be tough to beat.

Espanyol are after back-to-back losses in Copa Del Rey and Primera Division action, marking their third loss in the last five games in all competitions. To compound it further, it's six losses in their last nine games. On the strength of that form, they are justifiably matched at +280 soccer odds to win outright on Saturday.

Home league form appears to offers some wiggle room, with just two losses in their last ten games. However, there's an argument to be had about taking advantage of a nice stretch in the schedule that saw them come up against most of the league's lightweights. During that run, the only positive result was a 1-1 draw with Villarreal. The rest marked wins against relegation threatened sides and the like.


Soccer Betting Verdict and Tips
It's time to put up or shut up for Atletico Madrid. If they are to make a concentrated title run down the stretch – even if only for the semblance of not tapping out just yet –  they need to start winning. A game against Espanyol is exactly what they need to rebuild their confidence and a win would go a long way towards the league table. As well, it would go some way towards providing momentum for their Champions League date with Bayer. Under any other circumstance, Atleti would be strong favorites against Espanyol  As it is, with their apparent struggles they are only notional favorites on the short side of even money. For our recommended Soccer Picks, that's a steal bet. So take Atleti at +115 to win outright.

Soccer Picks: Atletico Madrid +115 at bet365

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