Barcelona host Atletico Madrid at the Camp Nou in a crucial La Liga match. Barca sits in fifth place, one point off Diego Simeone’s team. This match could see debuts for speedy forwards Adama Traore and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as Barcelona look to continue a six-match unbeaten run in the league.
Barca has played nine La Liga matches under Xavi with five wins and three draws. He has his team o on a six-match unbeaten streak in league action. Their last four matches saw a 1-1 draw at Granada in La Liga as they conceded an equaliser in the 89th minute after going down to ten men after Gavi’s red card. A 3-2 Spanish Super Cup defeat to Real Madrid followed in a match played in the Middle East.
Barcelona was then eliminated from the Copa del Rey after a 3-2 loss against Athletic Bilbao having twice fought from behind. They scraped a 1-0 win at Alaves last time out as Frenkie De Jong netted with just minutes left on the clock.
Barcelona Team News
Xavi has a few injury problems for this match. Clement Lenglet and Eric Garcia are injured in defence and Ansu Fati continues to suffer constant issues since his ACL knee injury. Memphis Depay has also been carrying a knock and may be absent or only on the bench at best.
The good news is all three of the club’s major attacking signings in January are available. The Spanish media is reporting that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Ferran Torres will start. Adama Traore could also be playing from the beginning but it depends whether Ousmane Dembele is eligible to feature or whether his contract situation will rule him out.
This is a massive match for Barcelona in the race for Champions League football. They simply can not lose and allow the gap to Atletico Madrid to increase to four points.
Xavi favours a high possession style with a defensive line on the halfway line. However, the pacey additions made in January are all better with space to attack. Barca may sit a little deeper to draw Atletico onto them, then hit Traore and Aubameyang on the counter.
Atleti has been in poor form for quite a few months. Their last 13 matches in all competitions have brought seven defeats. After a 2-2 draw at Villarreal in La Liga, they lost 2-1 to Athletic Bilbao in the Spanish Super Cup. A 2-0 Copa del Rey loss to Real Sociedad followed.
Atletico bounced back to beat Valencia 3-2 in their last match. They were 2-1 down in the 89th minute before two late goals with Mario Hermoso netting a 93rd-minute winner. The side has conceded eight goals in their last four matches and has just a single clean sheet in eight in La Liga.
Atletico Team News
Diego Simeone looks set to be missing three important players due to injury in Antoine Griezmann, Marcos Llorente, and Geoffrey Kondogbia.
Goalkeeper Jan Oblak should be back from COVID-19 in goal which is a big boost. Attacking midfielder Angel Correa and striker Mattheus Cunha netted as subs in the last match and one of them could replace Joao Felix in the attack.
Atletico sits fourth right now but has three strong teams between one and four points behind them. They absolutely can’t lose this match as they could finish the weekend down in sixth place. A draw would be reasonable to keep a gap between Barcelona and Real Sociedad.
Simone’s side will be very wary and cagey, knowing Barcelona loves possession football but that they now have the pace to counter-attack too.
Barcelona have won 3 of their last 5 La Liga matches (D2)
Barca have scored in 10 of their last 11 matches (La Liga)
Barcelona are winless in 5 matches against Atletico Madrid: LDLDL
Atletico have conceded 2+ goals in their last 4 matches (all comps)
Atletico have conceded 13 goals in their last 8 La Liga matches (one clean sheet)
Atleti have lost 3 of their last 4 away matches in La Liga
This match is very difficult to call. Barca is in better form in the league but struggled against Diego Simeone’s men. Atletico is leaking goals for fun but can’t afford to lose this match. A draw looks like a very possible outcome.
SIGN UP TO OUR BET CENTRAL PLAYBOOK
Get weekly emails packed with the best tips and sports content.
Get ahead of the game now – fill in the contact form below.
Share with friends and family