Barcelona will be hoping to finally get their La Liga campaign on track when they travel to unbeaten Atletico Madrid on Saturday (8pm kick-off).
Life under Ronald Koeman hasn’t exactly gone to plan for Barcelona so far, as they currently sit eighth in La Liga after seven games. Three of those games have been wins, but they were also stung by consecutive defeats against Getafe and Real Madrid in October.
The Blaugrana did win their most recent game prior to the international break and now there are no more stoppages, Koeman will be hoping his side can gel and build form to move up the table. But in their way this weekend is a tough Atletico aside.
Diego Simeone’s men are currently third and the only unbeaten side left in La Liga, winning five and drawing two of their seven games so far. They are just three points off top, with two games in hand on the teams above them, and six ahead of Barcelona.
However, Atletico and Simeone do have a poor record against Barcelona. Despite winning in the Spanish Super Cup semi-final final in January, Atletico have failed to win in the past 20 league meetings between the sides, losing 14 and drawing the remaining six.
The last Atletico win in the league came on February 14, 2010, when Diego Forlan and Simao scored in a 2-1 victory, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic scoring for Barcelona.
Where to watch Atletico Madrid vs Barcelona on TV:
- UK: LaLigaTV
- US: beIN SPORTS
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Atletico Madrid & Barcelona’s previous line-ups:
- Atletico Madrid (vs Cadiz): Oblak; Savic, Hermoso, Gimenez; Trippier, Koke, Herrera*, Saul; Felix, Llorente; Suarez*.
- Barcelona (vs Real Betis): Ter Stegen; Roberto, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; De Jong, Busquets*; Dembele, Griezmann, Pedri; Fati*.
Atletico Madrid have been rocked by the coronavirus, with both Lucas Torreira and Luis Suarez testing positive while on international duty with Uruguay and therefore ruled out. Hector Herrera is also sidelined, but Atletico could be boosted by the return of Diego Costa, with the Spaniard fighting to get match fit and fill in for Suarez.
Barcelona, meanwhile, are without Sergio Busquets and Ansu Fati who were injured before the international break, the latter expected to be out until March. They join Samuel Umtiti and Ronald Araujo on the sidelines.
Players to watch:
- Atletico Madrid: Joao Felix. With Luis Suarez out and Costa’s availability not yet confirmed, there will be a lot of pressure on Felix to perform, but it’s something he can handle. After a tough first season at Atletico, Felix has found his feet and is one of the stars of Simeone’s side, particularly when playing alongside Suarez. In seven appearances so far this season, Felix has scored five goals and recorded three assists, including back-to-back braces prior to the international break. He’s already broken his goal-involvement tally from last season and is just one goal off his scoring record in La Liga, a fine improvement. There was a lot of talk about him failing to live up to the expectations that came with his fee and while there is still a long way to go, Felix is proving he was judged too soon.
- Barcelona: Lionel Messi. If there is any Barcelona player that is going to keep their impressive run against Atletico going, particularly on their current form, it’s Lionel Messi. The Argentinian endured a frustrating international break but returns to face one of his favourite opponents. In 17 league appearances against Atletico, when managed by Simeone, Messi has scored 12 goals, more than any other player. To add to this tally, Messi will need to improve having had a below par season so far, based on his own high standards. The 33-year-old has scored just three goals in La Liga this season, two of which came from the penalty spot. He is also yet to officially record an assist, though he did have a hand in two own goals.
Scoreline prediction: Atletico Madrid 2-1 Barcelona
La Liga 2020/21 recent form:
- Atletico Madrid: DWWWW
- Barcelona: DLLDW
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