The La Liga clash between Athletico Madrid and Barcelona will be one of the standout fixtures that will take place at Wanda Metropolitano this weekend. This article takes a look at the preview of the clash.
Diego Simeone’s men will welcome Barcelona that is currently 8th on the log, six points behind their hosts after seven weeks of games. This should be a fascinating affair between two top Spanish teams. It is a clash that will expectedly live up to its billing.
Atletico is currently high on confidence as they are currently third in the table after an impressive start to the season. Having picked up 17 points from seven games while their visitors have only been able to pick up 11 points from their opening seven matches of 2020-21.
With this form, Athletico could break the duopoly of Barca and Real Madrid this season and go on to win the first La Liga title since 2013-14 as they did the last time. What they will need to pass such a strong message will be a win over Ronald Koeman’s side on Saturday night.
Madrid and Barca appear to be struggling this season while Athletico look to be a bit consistent than them. A 2-0 win will take the hosts to the top of the log at least for another 24 hours before Sociedad plays Cadiz that was walloped 4-0 at this same Stadium. Just three points separate them from the leaders Real Sociedad with two games in hand.
Simeone’s side is also going into this game on the back of five wins and drawing two from their games played so far in the domestic front. They only suffered their first defeat of the season against European champions, Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena in the UEFA Champions League in an emphatic fashion (4-0).
The hosts are also going into the clash on the front of four-game winning run in La Liga. They went on the international break after a 4-0 thumping of Cadiz. The last time they lost in La Liga was against the defending champions, Real Madrid ( 1-0) on February 1.
However, their Champions League form is not impressive as they have only been able to collect just four points from three matches. But the focus will be on Barca for now before welcoming Locomotive Moscow in the midweek. The last time they recorded a victory against Barca was February 2010.
Barca also hand entered the international break on the back of a thumping 5-2 success over Real Betis at the Camp Nou – their first win in the league since the start of October. This shows that the Catalan giant has been struggling.
With Lionel Messi‘s future at Camp Nou far from helpful, it could be a sign of good things to come as the Argentine scored his first goal of the season from open play.
So far Barca has recorded three wins, two draws and two defeats from seven matches. A defeat to Atletico this weekend would actually leave them nine points behind the hosts and likely 12 points behind Sociedad if they defeat Cadiz.
This is a game that will also test Koeman’s readiness for the job, having lost the bragging rights against Real Madrid at home. After his first Clasico defeat as manager on October 24, the Dutchman is expected to ready not to allow this to slip as well.
Barca is therefore coming up against a confident team despite the huge blow of losing Luis Suarez ahead of the contest. Unfortunately the Uruguayan won’t be able to face his former club as he continues to recover from COVID-19.
Athletico Madrid v Barcelona Preview: Team news and predicted line-up
Due to COVID-19 infection, the hosts will be without in-form Suarez who got infected while on international duty. His fellow countryman and teammate, Lucas Torreira is also sidelined with coronavirus.
Stefan Savic, Hector Herrera, Mario Hermoso and Sime Vrsaljko are also ruled out due to various fitness problems.
Diego Costa could start for Simeone provided he overcomes his battle to with a hamstring problem. He could howver start from the bench should he prove his fitness.
On the other hands, Joao Felix, Saul Niguez and Koke are certain to start, while new signing Geoffrey Kondogbia could make his first start for the club since arriving from Valencia.
For Barca, Sergio Busquets is out with a knee problem that he picked up on international duty for Spain. This will give Miralem Pjanic a midfield spot alongside Frenkie de Jong.
Ansu Fati is out after an operation alongside Ronald Araujo while Philippe Coutinho could return to action after making excellent progress in his recovery from a hamstring issue. The Brazilian playmaker could be involved potentially off the bench.
Having started from the Bench against Betis and he made an instant impact to scored a goal and created another, Messi will be back in the XI for this match. The Argentine talisman is expected to partner Antoine Griezmann, Ousmane Dembele in the attack. Pedri could later be called into action later in the final third of the field.
Atletico Madrid possible starting lineup:
Oblak; Trippier, Felipe, Gimenez, Lodi; Llorente, Kondogbia, Koke, Saul; Felix, Correa
Barcelona possible starting lineup:
Ter Stegen; Roberto, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; Pjanic, De Jong; Dembele, Messi, Pedri; Griezmann
Who do you think will win the clash? You can leave your predictions in the comment section.