The 2020-21 edition of La Liga makes an emphatic return this weekend as Atletico Madrid host Barcelona in one of the most important fixtures of the top flight at the Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday. Both teams have been fairly inconsistent this season and have a point to prove in this game.
Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman has solved his fair share of problems at the club but still has a long way to go to ensure that the Catalan giants' long-term future remains secure. The Blaugrana temporarily silenced their critics with a 5-2 victory against Real Betis in their previous game and will need to put in a similar performance on Saturday.
Atletico Madrid have several issues going into this game and Diego Simeone will have to dig deep into his squad to field a competitive line-up against Barcelona. The home side thrashed Cadiz by a 4-0 margin in their previous game and have relied heavily on Joao Felix to provide them with a spark in the final third this season.
Atletico Madrid vs Barcelona Head-to-Head
Atletico Madrid and Barcelona are two of the oldest clubs in Spain and have locked horns on innumerable occasions in the past. In the last 60 fixtures played between the two La Liga giants, Barcelona have been the superior outfit and have won 30 matches as opposed to Atletico Madrid's 15 victories.
The previous meeting between these two sides earlier in July this year ended in a 2-2 draw and dealt a severe blow to Barcelona's title aspirations. Atletico Madrid have troubled Barcelona in the past and will need to be at their best this weekend.
Atletico Madrid form guide in La Liga: W-W-W-W-D
Barcelona form guide in La Liga: W-D-L-L-D
Atletico Madrid vs Barcelona Team News
Atletico Madrid striker Luis Suarez has tested positive for the coronavirus and will miss his reunion with former teammate Lionel Messi this weekend. With Diego Costa also injured, Joao Felix and Marcos Llorente will have to take up the goalscoring burden against Barcelona.
Diego Simeone also has several key absences to account for with the likes of Yannick Carrasco, Hector Herrera, Lucas Torreira, Vitolo and Sime Vrsaljko ruled out of this game.
Injured: Yannick Carrasco, Hector Herrera, Lucas Torreira, Vitolo, Sime Vrsaljko, Luis Suarez, Diego Costa
In what is set to be a massive blow to Barcelona's immediate future, Ansu Fati underwent knee surgery and has been ruled out for four months. French winger Ousmane Dembele is likely to take his place in the starting eleven.
Ronald Koeman will be thrilled with the return of Philippe Coutinho and is likely to field him against a strong Atletico Madrid side. Antoine Griezmann had a series of positive outings for France this month and is also likely to be given another chance by the Barcelona manager. Sergio Busquets picked up an injury during the international break, however, and will likely be replaced by Miralem Pjanic in the Barcelona midfield.
Injured: Ansu Fati, Sergio Busquets, Ronald Araujo
Doubtful: Samuel Umtiti
Atletico Madrid vs Barcelona Predicted XI
Atletico Madrid Predicted XI (3-5-2): Jan Oblak; Mario Hermoso, Jose Gimenez, Stefan Savic; Kieran Trippier, Koke, Saul Niguez, Geoffrey Kondogbia, Renan Lodi; Marcos Llorente, Joao Felix
Barcelona Predicted XI (4-2-3-1): Marc-Andre ter Stegen; Sergino Dest, Gerard Pique, Clement Lenglet, Jordi Alba; Miralem Pjanic, Frenkie de Jong; Ousmane Dembele, Philippe Coutinho, Lionel Messi; Antoine Griezmann
Atletico Madrid vs Barcelona Prediction
Atletico Madrid are on an astonishing 23-match unbeaten streak in La Liga and will be in no mood to relinquish their excellent run of form against Barcelona this week. Diego Simeone has several options at his disposal and will want to take something away from this game.
The onus will be on Barcelona captain Lionel Messi yet again to break down what is likely to be a staunch Atletico Madrid defence. With Ousmane Dembele getting better with each passing day and Coutinho back in the squad, however, Barcelona may well be able to eke out a victory on Saturday.
Prediction: Atletico Madrid 1-2 Barcelona
Published 19 Nov 2020, 19:07 IST