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FC Barcelona vs Atlético Madrid: Detailed preview

Barça struggled to secure a win against Atlético Madrid, losing 1-0 in their last meeting
(Image courtesy: FC Barcelona)

FC Barcelona will host Atlético Madrid at the Camp Now today, which undoubtedly has to be the most important fixture for both the sides. A win tonight can help Barça clench those three points & move top at the summit of the La Liga Points table & keep the title race running in close proximity.

Koeman has done a commendable job in managing the Catalans, in helping them regain their composure back from a hopeless start to their La Liga campaign last year. Unfortunately, following the 2 match-ban he had received in the Granada match two weeks back, the dutch manager won’t be present on the touchline for today’s game which I believe would be a season-defining fixture for Barça. His appeal (apology) has been dismissed, it’s confirmed.

FC Barcelona has announced a 23 man squad to face Diego Simone’s team tonight. A 3-5-2 sounds appealing with Lenglet & Piqué as fixed starters at the back. Araújo, despite his edgy game reading, did a fair job against Valencia CF last week, so I believe, he’s highly likely to start over Mingueza in a back three tonight.

Koeman, despite not managing the team tonight stated in his press conference yesterday that “the team needs to be mentally strong & best with the ball”. A midfield with Pedri, De Jong & Busquets alongside Dest & Alba as wing-backs are likely starters to get the ball rolling in the final third. Roberto’s role will be crucial in keeping up with the intensity & pace in the second half of the game.

Griezmann & Leo will probably start in the attack for Barça. Personally, considering how difficult it is to get past Atletico’s defence (especially this season) & then to face Oblak in the net, I would prefer Dembélé to start over Griezmann for his ability to use pace & create more chances. But again, it’s a close call as both the French men lack one ability or the other.

As far as things for Atlético Madrid are concerned, they have been absolutely phenomenal in La Liga this season. Despite their unprecedented losses over the last few months, their overall form has still kept them at the top of the points table & Simone’s team might as well have a fair chance to aim for the La Liga title if they manage to beat Barça today, which will ultimately put them 5 points ahead with just 4 more matches to end the season.

Atlético’s key players: Jan Oblak, Marcos Llorente, Ángel Correa & Thomas Lemar are the ones to watch out for. Also, Luis Suárez, former Barça legend, ever since his departure from FC Barcelona has turned out to be a worthy signing for Atletico, with 19 goals (level with Griezmann) in the league so far. But honestly, I don’t find the Uruguayan a considerable threat for tonight’s game if Barça dominates with possession. He’ll be facing his former club for the first time since his departure, today.

With no other European competitions left for both the Spanish teams, a 10-day margin to prepare for the big game today gives us an impression that it will be an intense fixture with immense pressure upon both the teams to get those 3 points at the Camp Nou tonight.

I’m confident of a 2-0 victory favouring Barça. Vamos!!

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