Preview: Atletico Madrid vs. Barcelona

One of the standout fixtures on the La Liga calendar will take place at Wanda Metropolitano this weekend as Atletico Madrid welcome Barcelona for what should be a fascinating affair.

Atletico are currently third in the table after an impressive start to the season, but Barca are down in eighth, having only picked up 11 points from their opening seven matches of 2020-21.

The fact that Barca and Real Madrid both clearly have issues this season could open the door for Atletico to land their first La Liga title since 2013-14, and a win over Ronald Koeman's side on Saturday night would certainly aid suggestions that they could finish at the top of the pile.

Simeone's side have been very impressive this season, winning five and drawing two of their seven matches to sit third in the table, just three points off leaders Real Sociedad with two games in hand.

Atletico will bring a four-game winning run in La Liga into this contest, including a thumping 4-0 success over Cadiz before the international break. Incredibly, the capital giants have not actually lost in Spain's top flight since going down 1-0 away to Real Madrid on February 1.

The team's Champions League form has not been perfect - collecting just four points from three matches - but they will fancy their chances of picking up another win at home to Lokomotiv Moscow next week.

Atletico will currently be fully focused on Barca, though, and will be looking to record their first La Liga victory over the Catalan giants since February 2010, which is staggering considering their standing in the game.

Barca, meanwhile, entered the international break off the back of a thumping 5-2 success over Real Betis, which was actually their first win in the league since the start of October.

There is no getting away from the fact that it has been a bit of a struggle for the Catalan giants this term, with the speculation surrounding Lionel Messi's future at Camp Nou far from helpful.

A record of three wins, two draws and two defeats from seven matches has left them in eighth spot in the table, and a defeat to Atletico this weekend would actually leave them nine points behind Simeone's side on the same number of games, which would be quite an advantage at this stage of the season.

Koeman will be determined to lead his side to a win on Saturday, particularly as the Dutchman suffered a 3-1 defeat to Real Madrid in his first Clasico as manager on October 24.

Barca are far from their best at the moment, though, and will be coming up against a side full of confidence despite the huge blow of losing Luis Suarez ahead of the contest.

Atletico Madrid La Liga form: DDWWWW
Atletico Madrid form (all competitions): LWWWDW

Barcelona La Liga form: WDLLDW
Barcelona form (all competitions): WLWDWW

Team News

Atletico, as mentioned, will be without Suarez on Saturday, with the Uruguay international testing positive for coronavirus, meaning that he will miss out on the chance to face his former club.

Lucas Torreira is also sidelines with coronavirus, while Stefan Savic, Hector Herrera, Mario Hermoso and Sime Vrsaljko will all miss out due to various fitness problems.

Diego Costa is thought to be winning his battle to overcome a hamstring problem, but the experienced striker is only expected to be on the bench should he prove his fitness.

Joao Felix, Saul Niguez and Koke are certainties to start for Simeone's side, while Geoffrey Kondogbiacould make his first start for the club since arriving from Sevilla.

As for Barca, Sergio Busquets has been ruled out with a knee problem that he picked up on international duty for Spain, meaning that Miralem Pjanic should earn a midfield spot alongside Frenkie de Jong.

Ansu Fati and Ronald Araujo are also on the treatment table, but Philippe Coutinho has made excellent progress in his recovery from a hamstring issue and could be involved, potentially off the bench.

Messi started on the bench against Betis but will be back in the XI for this match, while Antoine Griezmann, Ousmane Dembele and Pedri should also earn starts 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

Source: Sports Mole / Matt Law



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