FC Barcelona VS Atletico Madrid, an incredibly tight match

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Match Time:7/1/2020 04:00 Wednesday(GMT+8)

Spanish La Liga -- FC Barcelona VS Atletico Madrid

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Barcelona will be looking to return to winning ways in La Liga when they continue their 2019-20 campaign against an in-form Atletico Madrid on Tuesday night.  The Spanish champions have drawn two of their last three in Spain's top flight to hand the advantage to Real Madrid, but Atletico are on a run of four league victories in a row.  

 

Match preview 

Barca twice led at Celta Vigo on Saturday afternoon, but the Spanish champions were pegged back on both occasions and had to ultimately settle for a point when Iago Aspas came up with an 88th-minute leveller.  There is no question that the Catalan giants would have been desperate to secure all three points, even though the result did allow them to move above Real Madrid to the top of the table.  As it stands, the gap from leaders Barca to second-placed Los Blancos is a single point, but Zinedine Zidane's side will have the chance to return to the summit when they face Espanyol on Sunday night.  Quique Setien's side returned to action earlier this month with back-to-back wins over Mallorca and Leganes, but they were held at Sevilla on June 19 before only just overcoming Athletic Bilbao four days later.  The games are coming thick and fast at this stage of the season and another poor result on Tuesday would only add to Real Madrid's growing confidence as the title race continues to gather pace.   

 

According to Marca, a 'tense discussion' took place in the Barca dressing room following the draw with Celta, with a number of the club's players 'disagreeing with some of Setien's methods'.  Reports of unrest in the camp are hardly ideal ahead of a clash with an in-form Atletico side, although Barca have incredibly not lost to the capital giants in Spain's top flight since February 2010, which is quite staggering.  The fact that the reigning champions have a tough game away to Villarreal on July 5 makes Tuesday's encounter even more important, particularly considering that Real Madrid appear to have the easier run-in, and Zidane's side seemingly mean business as they look to wrestle back the title.  Barca are more than capable of putting together a winning run between now and the end of the season, though, and it will be fascinating to see what transpires when they take to the field for this match.   

 

Atletico, meanwhile, were actually sixth in Spain's top flight ahead of their return to action on June 14, and they were held to a 1-1 draw by Athletic Bilbao in their first match after the lockdown period.  Diego Simeone's side have been in impressive form since then, though, recording four straight wins over Osasuna, Real Valladolid, Levante and Alaves to rise up the table.  The capital giants put five unanswered goals past Osasuna on June 17, but they have only just overcame Valladolid, Levante and Alaves in their last three, with Diego Costa's penalty against the latter ultimately proving crucial in Saturday night's clash at the Wanda Metropolitano.  Atletico are currently third in Spain's top flight, four points ahead of fourth-placed Sevilla, while they sit seven points ahead of fifth-placed Villarreal, with all three teams on 32 matches.   

 

It would certainly be a surprise to see Atletico fail to finish in the top four this season, but their spot was certainly in doubt due to their inconsistency prior to the lockdown period.  Only Real Madrid (3) have lost fewer La Liga matches than Atletico (4) this season, but it would be fair to say that too many draws (13) have cost them the chance to really challenge for the title.  The team's defensive record has again been impressive, conceding just 23 times in their 32 matches; a total of just 41 goals down the other end is an indication of their problems, though, as they only have the seventh-best attacking record in the division, even though they recently scored five against Osasuna.  Atletico's next two after this game are against Mallorca and Celta and a four-game winning run could quickly become seven if they manage to pick up a huge result at Camp Nou on Tuesday night.  The Madrid club are also still in the Champions League, having impressively overcome holders Liverpool in the last-16 stage of the competition back in March, and they will certainly be ones to watch when the European competition resumes in August. 

 

Barcelona La Liga form: WWWDWD  

Atletico La Liga form: DDWWWW Atletico form (all competitions): WDWWWW  

 

Team News   

Barca will again be without the services of injured duo Ousmane Dembele and Frenkie de Jong, but Sergi Roberto is making progress in his recovery from a rib problem and could make the squad.  Sergio Busquets missed out against Celta through suspension but is available here, while Arthur is expected to make the bench despite recently undergoing a medical with Juventus.  Antoine Griezmann was, somewhat surprisingly, named on the bench against Celta, but the France international is likely to start against his former club alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez in attack.  Clement Lenglet is also expected to return to the back four, taking Samuel Umtiti's place, while Ivan Rakitic could get the nod over Riqui Puig in the middle of the park.  

 

As for Atletico, Mario Hermoso and Sime Vrsaljko are on the sidelines through injury, but the visitors are otherwise in good shape ahead of Tuesday's clash.  Simeone has a number of decisions to make in the forward positions, but it seems unlikely that he will change from a 4-4-2 formation, which could see Joao Felix and Diego Costa feature as the front two.  Angel Correa is likely join Koke, Saul Niguez and Thomas Partey in midfield, although there is also the option of shifting Felix out wide and bringing Alvaro Morata into the starting XI.  Marcos Llorente will also be in Simeone's thinking when it comes to a role in the side, which is an indication of the strength of the options currently available to the capital outfit.  

 

Barcelona possible starting lineup: Ter Stegen; Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; Vidal, Busquets, Rakitic; Griezmann, L Suarez, Messi 

Atletico possible starting lineup: Oblak; Trippier, Savic, Gimenez, Lodi; Correa, Thomas, Saul, Koke; Felix, Costa  

 

Head To Head 

Atletico beat Barca 3-2 in the semi-finals of the Spanish Super Cup earlier this year, with Correa coming up with a late winner in what was an incident-packed match. The Spanish champions ran out 1-0 winners at the Wanda Metropolitano in the league back in December, though, and as mentioned, Atletico have not actually beaten Barca in La Liga since February 2010.  Three of their last seven meetings in Spain's top flight have finished level, though, with Atletico's last point at Camp Nou coming back in September 2016.  Incredibly, the capital side have not actually won an away La Liga game against Barca since February 2006, which is an indication of the size of their task on Tuesday night.   

 

Odd analysis:

Barcelona 2-1 Atletico Madrid It would be fairly easy to back a low-scoring draw in this match, but Barca are sure to be desperate to return to winning ways due to the disappointment of their result against Celta. We are expecting an incredibly tight match involving spells where Barca will suffer, but we fancy the home side to narrowly triumph.

 

FC Barcelona VS Atletico Madrid

Pick:FC Barcelona

FC Barcelona VS Atletico Madrid, an incredibly tight match

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