Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid : Preview, TV Channel Info, Team News, Prediction, Betting Odds
The serene and picturesque settings girdling the ravishing Aristides Maillol street in Barcelona, will be inundated by the shrieks and shouts emerging from the esteemed Camp Nou stadium as Barcelona take on Atletico Madrid in a tantalizing top-of-the-table clash this weekend.
Both sides endured contrasting fates in their Copa del rey games in the midweek as Rojiblancos were shockingly knocked out of the competition after losing out to Celta Vigo by 3-2 at home, whilst the Cules progressed to the last 4 after a comprehensive 5-2 aggregate victory over Athletic Bilbao. Now, the sides turn their attention towards their all-important league clash as the race to the finish line is gathering steam.
Barcelona ace Lionel Messi made the difference after coming on off the bench the last time the two teams met as the defending champions won 2-1 at the Vincente Calderon on matchday 3 in La Liga. Both teams have undergone a serpentine ride since then but meet again in almost similar circumstances, vying for the top spot.
Kickoff and Live Telecast
Date and Time: 30th January, 2016 – 08:30 PM (IST)
Channel Info: Sony Six, SIX HD
Venue: Camp Nou, Barcelona
Hosts Barcelona will have Neymar fit to play in the crunch game after he was avowed to be fit by manager Luis Enrique, but will remain without Jordi Alba, who is currently nursing an ankle injury. Newboy Arda Turan caught flu earlier this week and missed out the 3-1 victory over Athletic in the midweek, but may be in line to start the game against his former colleagues.
Talking about Atletico, the capital club have recently been without their old guard Fernando Torres due to ankle problems, and his conditions will be checked once again prior to the kickoff. Aside from that, the visitors do not have any other major injury concerns.
Barcelona (4-3-3): Bravo; Alves, Mascherano, Pique, Mathieu; Iniesta, Rakitic, Busquets; Messi, Neymar, Suarez.
Atletico Madrid (4-4-2): Oblak; Juanfran, Savic, Godin, Felipe Luis; Saul, Gabi, Carrasco, Koke; Griezmann, Vietto.
Barcelona have gone 24 matches unbeaten since losing 2-1 to Sevilla back in October, and have won each of their last 6 matches. However, some of them weren’t without its warts. The European champions managed to escape with victories over Malaga and Athletic Bilbao in their last 2 outings with a lot of struggle.
The Catalans were found wanting when thrown the kitchen sink at them, and Atletico will look to exploit the frailty so that they take something away from this game.
Last 5 matches: W-W-W-W-W (Last result: Barcelona 3-1 Athletic Bilbao)
On the other side, Atletico’s recent form has gone to the dogs. Not only did they cede the pole position after the disappointing 0-0 draw to Sevilla at home, but were also knocked out of the Copa Del Rey after two stuttering legs against Celta Vigo.
The Madrid outfit, at one point, appeared to be favourites for the title after a strong run and revoked memories of their historic triumph in 2014. However, Atletico are running out of steam now and going through a rough patch.
Last 5 matches: W-W-D-D-L (Last result: Atletico Madrid 2-3 Celta Vigo)
- Barcelona have gone 11 league games without a defeat to Atletico (W9, D2).
- Barcelona are unbeaten in its last 9 home matches against Atletico in La Liga.
- Los Rojiblancos have won each of their last 3 away games in the league by maintaining a clean sheet.
- This match will be Juanfran's 350th in the Spanish top flight.
- Lionel Messi has scored 20 goals against Atletico Madrid.
Antoine Griezmann vs Sergio Busquets
Atletico Madrid striker Antoine Griezmann will be leading the line for the visitors and arguably, will be also carrying the single biggest threat. The Frenchman has been a vital addition to the side since joining from Real Sociedad in the summer of 2014 and goals have kept coming at an exponential rate.
The 24-year old takes the game to the teams and has a knack of slaloming past his markers with relative ease. His creative influence is also worth noting and he is the one Barcelona should be most wary of.
His opposite number Sergio Busquets, though, isn’t half-shabby either. The Spaniard has been a key figure in the Barca midfield and will be vital in thwarting the French juggernaut.
Luis Suarez vs Diego Godin
At the other end of the field, Luis Suarez will be posing a monumental threat to the visitors, for the maverick Uruguayan has been in red hot form this season. With 18 goals to his name, Suarez leads the scoring charts of La Liga and looks roaring to add many more on the road.
Trying to stop him in his tracks will be international team-mate Diego Godin, the Atletico skipper who has been the fulcrum of the team under manager Diego Simeone. The Uruguay international has featured in all the 21 league matches this season and has been pivotal to the side’s amazing defensive record.
His bulwark like presence brings a sense of resilience to the backline and runs a taut ship from the rump of the team. Arguably the best centre-back of the season against the best striker of the season, its an unstoppable force colliding with an immovable object.
A duel worth keeping an eye on.
Atletico Madrid may be bolstered by their magnificent defensive record in the league, but won’t have much positive memories of Barcelona aside from the title triumph season. They haven’t beaten their illustrous rivals in 11 league games now, and do not look in the shape to halt the terrible record from extending by a game more.
Predicted score: Barcelona 2-1 Atletico Madrid
Betting Odds (bet365)
Barcelona – 11/4
Draw – 3/1
Atletico Madrid – 6/4