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La Liga: Barcelona Host Atletico Madrid As Title Race Narrows

Atletico Madrid head to Camp Nou on Saturday to face Barcelona in one of the biggest clashes of La Liga

With both the Premier League and Serie A titles sealed, all eyes across Europe are on the close contest between Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Real Madrid to take home the Spanish title.

The Atleti currently lead the title race with 76 points, while Barcelona are a close third with 74 points.

Here’s our preview of Saturday’s fixture between Atletico Madrid and Barcelona:

BARCELONA

Barcelona’s season has been a roller-coaster, with the Catalan giants losing their way early on in the season before making a spectacular comeback to stay in contention for the trophy. 

Ronald Koeman’s men have already clinched the Copa del Rey in April in a comprehensive 4-0 victory over Athletic Bilbao. If they manage to finish the season at the top of the table, Barça would end their season on a satisfactory note, despite failing to make a mark in European competitions. 

Ronald Koeman’s men have suffered a shock 2-1 defeat to Granada at Camp Nou. They have now lost six of their 17 fixtures at Camp Nou and Atletico will be eager to inflict another home defeat on them. 

But Lionel Messi and his men shined in a spectacular 3-2 win at the Mestalla earlier this week. Messi scored twice while Antoine Griezmann scored the deciding goal. 

Injuries continue to plague Barcelona with Philippe Coutinho, Ansu Fati, and Martin Braithwaite set to miss the fixture. Sergino Dest has an injury concern and an update is awaited on his condition. 

ATLETICO MADRID

Atletico Madrid had an impressive season by all accounts – at one point early in their year they were all but guaranteed the La Liga title. 

Real Madrid and Barcelona have caught up since then, and Diego Simeone’s men have lost their form in recent weeks. But Atletico are still in contention to win their first La Liga title since 2014 when they finished just three points above Barcelona.

Atletico head into Saturday’s fixture on the back of a 1-0 victory over Elche last week. They have won three of their last five matches and lost just one. 

The shock 2-1 defeat to Athletic Bilbao exposed the vulnerabilities in their side, but Diego Simeone seems to have worked on them, as was seen in their performance against Elche. 

They have the best defensive record in La Liga, having conceded just 22 goals, while they are next only to Barcelona in the number of goals scored. 

Luis Suarez’s recovery from injury provided a boost to the Atleti and his reunion with Lionel Messi is being eagerly awaited. Atletico have no injury concerns and Diego Simeone will have his full squad to pick from.

HEAD TO HEAD

Atletico Madrid and Barcelona have faced each other on 232 occasions across competitions, with the Catalan giants winning in 117 fixtures. Atletico have won 77 games, while just 38 fixtures have ended in a draw. 

The reverse fixture in November resulted in a 1-0 victory for the then-in-form Atletico, but Barcelona will look back to last season when they held the Capital giants to a 1-1 draw at Camp Nou. 

Notably, this is not the first time that the two giants have fought a fixture with the title in contention. In 2014. Atletico managed to hold Barcelona to a 1-1 draw and clinch the title on the last day of the season. 

Barca could have won the title with a win as they were only three points behind Atletico and had the better head-to-head. Alexis Sánchez put the Blaugrana ahead after 33 minutes, but a Diego Godin equaliser took the title away from Barcelona. 

WHAT TO EXPECT

With two of the best teams in Europe going head-to-head at Camp Nou, it will be an action-packed 90 minutes. 

This is the last major contest remaining for both sides, so both managers are going to field their top players. With Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez in play, a few goals are to be expected. 

Expect a close contest that is likely to end in a draw. 

Barcelona Predicted XI: Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Clement Lenglet, Gerard Pique, Ronald Araujo, Sergi Roberto, Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets, Frenkie de Jong, Pedri, Antoine Griezmann, Lionel Messi.

Atletico Madrid Predicted XI: Jan Oblak, Renan Lodi, Jose Gimenez, Stefan Savic, Kieran Trippier; Saul Niguez, Koke, Marcos Llorente, Yannick Carrasco, Angel Correa, Luis Suarez.

When: Saturday, 8 May 2021, 7:45 PM IST

Where: Camp Nou, Barcelona.

Where to Watch: All matches of La Liga will be live streamed on La Liga Facebook App.

 

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