That time of the year has arrived when the whole world’s eyes rest on just one game. Spanish football is nothing but a joyful ride filled with twists and turns that weren’t expected. The title race is tight, the difference is just merely 2 points. The Rojablancos of Madrid are looking to grab their hands on the trophy after a few years. They face FC Barcelona, who are looking to retain their title back after a disappointing last season. With such drama, the leaders will be playing FC Barcelona away from home looking to tighten their grip at the top and crush the Catalan side’s dream of the title this season. The task looks easy but is not as Barcelona has managed to bounce back and is playing really good football at the moment.
Why to watch out for
FC Barcelona and Atletico Madrid have been in amazing form recently. This match stands out and can turn out to be a decisive one because of the stakes. The title is on the line and both Spanish dominant forces are in no condition to lose. This is what makes this match the game-changer for both sides and interesting as it promises great footballing action along with the clash of a side playing beautiful football while the other playing very anti-football style.
Style of play
Over the years Diego Simeone’s style has been criticized a lot by football pundits all around the world. The anti-football style of playing has given Atletico Madrid very good results. Their unique style of playing has allowed them to get one title and has guided them in the Champions League final two times. On the other hand, there is the beautiful football playing style of FC Barcelona.
Ronald Koeman is a very demanding manager who has made FC Barcelona better since last year. The side looked shaky at the start of the season but managed to be at the top of the flight. It would be very interesting to witness as these two sides clash with each other.
Reunion of 2 world Class Strikers
Atletico Madrid’s visit to Camp Nou will be a reunion of Luis Suarez with FC Barcelona as the striker moved to the other half of Madrid last year. The party doesn’t stop there as the world cup winner Antoine Griezmann will be pleased to see his cold club. The Argentine manager has never won a match at Camp Nou will be looking to make his first victory but with the deadly-looking side of FC Barcelona, it will be a task for them.
FC Barcelona dropped crucial 3 points to Granada which also allowed Atletico Madrid to stay top of the table. FC Barcelona looked shaky at the defense at times. Atletico Madrid despite dropping a few points mid-season managed to stay at the top of the table and with a step ahead of the rest of the challengers will look to give Diego Simeone his first-ever win at Camp Nou. With rumors questioning Ronald Koeman’s future at the club it can turn out to be a decisive match for him as well. There is a lot on the line for both sides and losing is something that both sides cannot simply afford.
Barcelona’s injury status hasn’t shifted an inch, as their key players like Braithwaite, Fati, and Coutinho are still injured. Dembele will start from the bench as the hosts will go with full power with Griezzmann and Messi. Atletico on the other hand has an edge over Barcelona, with a fully healthy squad on the sheets. Renan Lodi had a muscle injury but fully recover till the match.
Simone will go n with typical defensive formation. His Team will go with their go tactic of sitting deep with soaking all the pressure and playing on the counter. Coming to the team Simone will go with the formation of 3-5-2 which easily be shifted into a 4-4-2 line of defense. In goal, Jan Oblak will start along with 3 man defense of Savic Gimenez, Hermoso. When converted into two lines of 4 Hermoso can slot in that left-back position. In wingbacks place Trippier and Simone favorite Carrasco will automatically slot in. Midfield will consist of Koke Saul and man of the season so far Marcus Llorente. In attack, Suarez is set to start against his former team while there will be a toss-up between Correra and wonder boy Felix for that second spot.
Oblak; Savic, Gimenez, Hermoso; Trippier, Saul, Koke, Carrasco; Llorente, Suarez, Correa.
For Koeman men in his absence will go with tried and tested formation of 3-5-2. Barca will have pretty much the ball for much of the time. Barca will have all the possession while their opponents pack all the spaces and sit deep. For Barcelona Ter Stegen will start along with Pique and Mingueza, for that third centre-back spot we feel there will be a toss-up between Araujo and Lenglet. Araujo has been rock solid and the threat from set-pieces while Lenglet has been shaky at times. The only thing which can go in Lenglet favour is that he is a left-footed one. We think ideally looking at Mangitute of the game Araujo should start but Koeman might go with Lenglet.
In Midfield of 5: Alba De Jong Pedri and Busquets are certain. The only question remains Roberto or Dest on the right-hand side. Reports are that both players having niggles. In a such case whoever fitter on match day will get the nod. In attack, Messi will start along with Greizamann is also set to face his former team.
Ter Stegen; Mingueza, Pique, Araujo/Lenglet Dest/Roberto, De Jong, Busquets, Pedri, Jordi Alba; Antoine Griezmann, Messi.
Barcelona has an impressive record against Atletico Madrid and has won 27 matches out of a total of 53 games played between the two teams. Atletico Madrid has managed only 12 victories against Barcelona and will want to improve their record in this fixture.
The previous meeting between the two La Liga giants took place in November last year and ended in a 1-0 victory for Atletico Madrid.
Players to Watch for
Most football fans can strongly argue about Lionel Messi being the greatest footballer of all time. On numerous occasions, the no.10 has proved the difference in decisive matches. With having a good score against Atletico Madrid, a few goals can be expected from Messi. Messi has always been a beauty to watch. But few youngsters stand out from the crowd and it is this that makes these important for their respective teams. For Barcelona, it is going to be the Dutchman Frankie De Jong and Pedri. The two youngsters have made their place in eh squad. However, De Jong is the player that has played literally everywhere on the field. He has played as a Centre Back and scored a few goals for the side.
Atletico De Madrid
The visitors also have a few players that have been amazing this season. Marcos Llorente is being in amazing form this season is one of those players in Europe’s Top Five league who has goals and assists in double digits. Being a midfielder, he brings flexibility in the time as at times he has been playing as the second striker. Another player from Diego Simeone’s side is the winger Kieran Tripper who also brings speed and while attacking. Also proving himself as a reliable defender would be a good sign to watch these two players. The standout player last time these two sides met, Yannick Carrasco, will be the player to watch out for again as this midfielder never fails to impress the fans with his style of play.
The football world misses the Messi and Suarez duo for Barcelona but their friendship grows stronger than that. However, the fixture is set to be decisive for the title race. FC Barcelona sharing the same points with Real Madrid is in second place. It can be a chance for FC Barcelona to close the gap for the title and they could go at the top if they win. Atletico Madrid being the leader will try to hold on to the lead and will try to keep the two Spanish Giants at a bay. Despite the footballing drama, the title at stake would be this game will prove to be a very crucial one in deciding who will be crowned champions of Spain.
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