Lionel Messi is to miss up to eight weeks of Barcelona’s season following the reoccurrence of a hamstring injury. While this is grave news for Barca, Messi’s prolonged absence may just lead to the first winner of La Liga outside of the all-powerful Clasico rivalry for 10 years.
No one likes to see great players sidelined through injury, especially not arguably the greatest of all time – which many believe the diminutive goal-plundering magician that is Messi, to be.
However, on the same note, no one likes to see all-out dominance in sport either, whether it’s Formula One’s Sebastian Vettel smoking all-comers in his Red Bull, or in the case of Spanish football; Barcelona and Real Madrid maintaining a decade-long stranglehold on the La Liga title.
Well now, Diego Simeone’s dark horses for the title Atletico Madrid, may never get a better chance than this to finally break up the Barca/Real party.
Currently second behind the Catalans in the La Liga standings by just three points, punters can still find Atletico at whopping odds of 9/1 to win the title, while Barca are nearly untouchable at 1/4.
Of course, they still have to contend with the small matter of Real Madrid at 4/1, though Atletico have already broken one hoodoo over their bitter city rivals in La Liga, by winning at the Bernabeu in the Madrid derby for the first time in 14 years.
Despite Carlo Ancelotti’s star-studded side finally beginning to click in recent times too, Real have lost to both main rivals already and tensions have recently surfaced over the omissions of Spanish star Isco and Argentine ace Angel Di Maria from the team.
Barcelona still have a host of talented players as well, but losing such a relentless source of goals and such a talisman as Messi can only be harmful to their cause.
Only Espanyol have recorded a victory over this dazzling Atletico outfit in La Liga thus far and Simeone’s men also became the first team in the whole of the Champions League to qualify for the knockout stages, with four group wins from four.
At 9/1 punters should be licking their lips, but spare a thought for Messi too.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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