First meets third in La Liga on Saturday as league leaders Barcelona travel to title rivals Atletico Madrid looking to open up a four point gap over Diego Simeone's side.
Whilst the Argentine manager may have secured the title at Camp Nou with a 1-1 draw on the final day of the 2013/2014 campaign, the charismatic leader of Los Rojiblancos is yet to taste victory against the Catalan giants in the league.
Will this Saturday's game finally be the year in which he masterminds an Atletico triumph? Check out 90min's preview for the game below.
How to Watch
|When Is Kick Off?||Saturday 24 November|
|What Time Is Kick Off?||19:45 (GMT)|
|Where Is it Played?||Wanda Metropolitano|
|TV Channel/Live Stream?||Eleven Sports|
|Referee?||Jesus Gil Manzano|
Simeone's biggest worry is over the lack of options available to him in central defence after a raft of untimely injuries. Captain Diego Godin, Lucas Hernandez, Stefan Savic and Jose Maria Gimenez have all been ruled out of action recently, with Simeone forced to turn to 19-year-old rookie Francisco Montero in their Champions League game against Borussia Dortmund.
Atletico will hope that the international break has given the defenders a chance to recover adequately for them to take the field on Saturday.
Ernesto Valverde's side will likely receive a major boost ahead of Saturday's clash with the return of Brazilian star Philippe Coutinho from injury. The former Liverpool midfielder has been out with a hamstring injury since the first week of November, but after featuring in training on Tuesday, is in contention to play at the weekend.
|Atletico Madrid||Oblak; Juanfran, Savic, Hernandez, Filipe Luis; Koke, Rodri, Saul, Correa; Griezmann, Costa.|
|Barcelona||Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Pique, Umtiti, Alba; Busquets, Arthur, Vidal; Coutinho, Suarez, Messi.|
Head to Head Record
A notoriously tight fixture, Atletico and Barcelona have met 162 times in La Liga with the Catalans claiming victory in 73 of them to give them a 45% win percentage.
Atletico meanwhile have come out on top on 50 occasions but Diego Simeone's own personal record in this fixture is a worrying concern. The Argentine has presided over this game 13 times in La Liga, and has drawn four and lost nine.
Last season's corresponding fixture saw Luis Suarez break Atletico hearts with a late equaliser after Saul Niguez had put the home side in front. The Uruguay striker's goal preserved Barcelona's unbeaten start, with the draw a key result in the side's path to claiming a 25th La Liga title that campaign.
Atletico have enjoyed a good run of form since their shocking 4-0 defeat to Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League in October. Simeone's side gained revenge over their Bundesliga counterparts with a 2-0 victory at the Wanda Metropolitano, before going on a run of three wins in four in domestic competitions.
Their final game before the international break saw Los Rojiblancos come from behind twice against Athletic Bilbao to snatch a win, courtesy of an injury time strike from captain Diego Godin.
Barcelona meanwhile have been in indifferent form since thrashing Real Madrid 5-1 in El Clasico. They battled past relegation threatened Rayo Vallecano with two late strikes and then fell to an embarrassing 4-3 defeat at home to Real Betis.
Valverde's men have seemingly taken their eye off the ball in recent weeks and perhaps the international break came at the right time for them to focus and regroup once more.
Here's how each team has performed in their last five fixtures:
|Atletico Madrid 3-2 Athletic Bilbao (10/11)||Barcelona 3-4 Real Betis (11/11)|
|Atletico Madrid 2-0 Borussia Dortmund (06/11)||Inter Milan 1-1 Barcelona (06/11)|
|Leganes 1-1 Atletico Madrid (03/11)||Rayo Vallecano 2-3 Barcelona (03/11)|
|Sant Andreu 0-1 Atletico Madrid (30/10)||Cultural Leonesa 0-1 Barcelona (31/10)|
|Atletico Madrid 2-0 Real Sociedad (27/10)||Barcelona 5-1 Real Madrid (28/10)|
28 goals in 36 games. That is Lionel Messi's record in games against Atletico Madrid in his career, with Sevilla the only other side to have suffered more goals at the feet of the Argentine magician. After a miraculous recovery from the fractured arm that he suffered last month, Messi will be hoping to continue his fine form against Atletico on Saturday.
With injuries to key defenders and a dearth of alternative options at centre-back, Simeone's hopes of finally gaining a victory over Barcelona in La Liga has become even more remote.
Indeed, with the timing of the international break allowing the Catalan giants to re-focus after some inconsistent form, Barcelona will fancy their chances of consolidating top spot in La Liga with a victory.