Malaga v Atletico Madrid – La Rosaleda Stadium at 19.30 live on Sky Sports 4

There’s been a major gamble on Justin Bieber clinching Christmas number one in Britain this week but over in Spain, it’s Atletico Madrid who are attracting headline chart attention.

The Mattress Makers made it eight victories on the spin in all competitions when coming from behind to beat Athletic Bilbao 2-1 last weekend. That three points enabled Diego Simeone’s men to move level with league leaders Barcelona, who let slip a 2-0 lead at home to Deportivo 24 hours earlier.

Atletico now have the chance to be top dogs at Christmas should they avoid defeat at Malaga on Sunday and it would take a brave punter to bet against them. The capital club have W11-D2-L0 in their last 13 and they’ve won all 11 fixtures against clubs sitting outside the top-six.

The guests have faced the fewest shots-on-target in Spain (40), have leaked just seven goals in 15 league fixtures (the lowest across Europe’s top five leagues) and have scored the opening goal most often (12) this term.

True, Atleti did leak their first goal in five La Liga outings against the Basques and although they’ve hardly hitting top gear, Simeone’s side are grinding out the victories. So I’m surprised to see 1.80 available on the capital club beating the -0.50 Asian Handicap here.

In the full seasons since Simeone took charge, as well as 2015/16, the Mattress Makers have won 36/64 (56%) of their La Liga road trips, including five of seven this season. A huge 31 of those fixtures saw the visitors keep their sheets clean. They should have more than enough in their locker to leave the Costa del Sol with a ninth successive success.

As well as Barcelona and Real Madrid dropping points last weekend, Malaga broke their away duck. The Anchovies scored their first goals on the road all season when coming from behind to beat Rayo 2-1 – striking twice on their travels for just the third time in 2015.

Malaga will no doubt be buoyed by their win but Javi Gracia’s charges have only W3-D4-L9 when taking on top-six sides since the start of last season.

The hosts have fired blanks on four occasions at La Roselada already this term and won’t be given too many favours from an Atleti side hell-bent on being top of the tree at Christmas. Away win.

Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation:  Atletico Madrid -0.5 at1.80

Price correct at the time of writing.

By @MarkOHaire

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