Football

Atlético Madrid vs Barcelona – Defining weekend for Top of La Liga

It's Atlético Madrid who welcome title challengers, Barcelona on Matchday 24 in La Liga. Their last meeting came two weeks ago, in the Copa del Rey semi-finals where Barcelona prevailed 3-2 on aggregate. When it comes to head-to-head, a total of 40 matches have been played till date in which Barcelona have 21 wins whereas Atletico have managed just 9 with 10 games ending in a draw.

 

Atlético Madrid looking to sting Barcelona at home

Atlético Madrid have been in a very good run of form in their last 5 matches with the only defeat coming against Barcelona in the first leg of Copa del Rey semi-finals. Interestingly that match too was played at Vicente Calderón. Their dominating away victory over Bayern Leverkusen in Champions League round of 16 should serve as a confidence booster for this crucial game as far as the league title is considered. Moreover, they are unbeaten in the league in 2017 with 5 wins and 2 draws.

 

 

Atlético Madrid Team News

Jan Oblak should return after a lengthy injury lay-off in goal. Diego Godin may be rushed back from injury to partner Savic in central defence. Juanfran is still out though so Sime Vrsaljko will continue at right-back. There are no fresh injury concerns for Diego Simeone. No player is currently suspended in the league for Atlético Madrid. Kevin Gameiro has been in red-hot form with a hat-trick against Sporting Gijon following it up with another goal and an assist against Bayer Leverkusen. Fernando Torres, Antoine Griezmann and Yannick Carrasco have also been on target of late. The manager is expected name almost the same first team players who secured a 4-2 away win at Bayer Leverkusen. 

 

Barcelona hoping to capitalise on Real Madrid’s defeat to Valencia 

The Catalans have found themselves in a slump of form in the past one week. With a heavy away defeat to PSG, their Champions League hopes this season are virtually over. It was neither one of their best displays against a lowly placed Leganes in their previous league match, but they managed to scrape with a 2-1 win through a 90th-minute penalty by Lionel Messi.

“We’re not going through our best moment of form,” Barcelona defender Gerard Pique told reporters this week. “We’re focused on finding solutions.

Their top scorer in the league has been their talisman, Lionel Messi with 19 goals. Suárez is playing catch-up with 18 goals this season. On the other hand, Neymar has found it difficult to find the back of the net more often with just 6 goals.
 

Barcelona Team News

Luis Enrique is set to name a strong side for the trip to Atletico Madrid this Sunday. With Javier Mascherano doubtful and Aleix Vidal sidelined, there will hardly be any surprises in the defence as Sergi Roberto, Jordi Alba, Gerard Pique and Samuel Umtiti are all likely to start. In midfield, Sergio Busquets returns from suspension and is likely to start with Andres Iniesta and either of Andre Gomes or Ivan Rakitic. The MSN trident will be leading the attack, while Luis Enrique could use this fixture to try out the 4-2-3-1 formation he is looking at ahead of the return fixture against Paris Saint-Germain.

 

Predicted Lineups

Barcelona XI (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Alba, Pique, Umtiti, Roberto; Rakitic, Busquets Iniesta; Messi, Suarez Neymar

Atlético Madrid XI (4-4-2): Moyá; Vrsaljko, Savic, Gomez, Luis; Correa, Gabi, Koke, Carrasco; Griezmann, Gameiro

 

 

Match Prediction

Atlético Madrid 2-1 Barcelona

Barcelona is one of the few sides that has consistently caused problems for an impressive Atlético defence in recent years and they do boast a strong recent record at the Vicente Calderon. But given the form Atlético Madrid is in lately and on top of that things have just started to click for Kevin Gameiro following his enormous for Barcelona either though as they look to close the gap on Real Madrid so we should see both coaches going for it and that ought to lead to a relatively open game with several goals. Atlético must win to keep any realistic chances of staying in the title race. 

 

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