By Tim Stannard
Saturday's early clash at Granada for Atletico could give challengers hope that the LaLiga title is far from done and dusted
Although this may look akin to studying DNA strands, the recent record in LaLiga for Atletico Madrid is as follows - WWWWWWWLWWWWWWWWD.
The blemishes in that near perfect run of 17 league wins were the Madrid Derby defeat in December and last Monday's 2-2 draw against Celta Vigo. And it's that draw which has fans of Real Madrid and Barcelona all with the 'Dumb and Dumber' when it comes to a previously locked up title race - "so you're telling me there's a chance?"
That's especially the case when looking at the league table which now has Atletico Madrid just five points ahead of Real Madrid in second. However, that is not taking into account two games in hand that the Rojiblancos have that could spring the lead back to 11. It's the same potential gap for Barcelona, which has played one more than Atletico.
Diego Simeone's side have the advantage of being first up in The Big Three schedule in LaLiga on Saturday with an away trip to Granada getting underway on beIN SPORTS at 8AM ET. Barcelona will wrap up the day from 3PM ET at home to Alaves, with Real Madrid taking on Valencia on Sunday at 10:15AM ET.
Those in the camp that sense an Atletico Madrid choke is underway will point to new fangled soccer science and claim that the club's expected goal rate is way too high - the team is scoring more than it should - the expected goals being conceded is way to low - the team should be conceding more.
Mother Nature will rectify that apparently.
However, the 'chokehold' camp is pretty strong as well - even if Atletico Madrid were to start leaking points here and there, Real Madrid and Barcelona would have be perfect in order to take advantage of them.
The signs are strong in the The Force for Atletico Madrid on Saturday with Granada having failed to win their last 20 LaLiga games against Atlético de Madrid. However, as Luis Suarez dutifully declared - every match in LaLiga is very hard, like Granada and the two coming up against Levante."
The Sports Burst show will look at how hard with a big weekend preview and prediction at 12PM ET on our Facebook page, following a live edition of the show on beIN XTRA at 11AM ET.
The weekend in LaLiga gets underway today with Iago Aspas' Celta Vigo hosting Elche from 3PM ET.
PSG begin life without Neymar. Again
The match that follows Atletico Madrid's epic encounter against Granada on Saturday is PSG against Nice and sees the French club engaged on multiple fronts.
Ordinarily, PSG would be able to rest a few players ahead of a Champions League Last 16 match against Barcelona on Tuesday. But not this year. That's because PSG are involved in the mother of all battles against three other teams in Ligue 1 to win the title.
Lille are currently at the top of the table and as America's Timothy Weah told our Andres Cordero on Thursday, his side for one are not giving any ground - "our goal was to be at the top and we are there." The same can be said for second placed Lille and a Monaco team that is rapidly gaining ground.
🇺🇸🤝🇲🇽 Timothy Weah talks about his friendship with Eugenio Pizzuto pic.twitter.com/diLAChwSvK— beIN SPORTS USA (@beINSPORTSUSA) February 11, 2021
PSG's challenge has been made harder by the absence of Neymar for the next month after a crunching tackle in a midweek cup game put the Brazilian forward out of action and declaring in an emotional post on social media that he seems to be the target of the harshest treatment - "I don't know if it's me or what I do on the field. It really makes me sad."
Maurico Pochettino spoke about Neymar's injury to Spanish radio station, Onda Cero, on Thursday night saying that "he was very motivated for this Barcelona game. He adores this competition. What's more there is an obsession to win the Champions League here."
PSG take on Lille at 11AM ET live on beIN SPORTS with Lyon hosting Montpellier at 3PM ET on beIN XTRA - a match that you can catch for absolutely free.
No more fans in the stands at the Australian Open
The soul-cheering sight of fans at the Australian Open sitting watching the tennis like in The Days of Yore is set to be put on hold for the next five days, unfortunately. A local lockdown goes into place on Friday night in Melbourne, to stamp down a new COVID-19 outbreak in the state of Victoria.
"It's going to be a rough few days for I think everyone. But we'll hopefully get through it," said a disappointed Serena Williams who moved through to the fourth round after a win over Anastasia Potapova.