Barcelona are set to host Atletico Madrid in a battle of La Liga heavyweights at the Camp Nou on Saturday night, as the race for the title heats up coming into the final stretch of the season.
The Blaugrana are coming off a thrilling 4-4 draw with Villarreal which saw the club squander a two-goal lead and eventually come back in injury time to come away with a point at the Estadio de la Ceramica. Atletico took home all three points on Tuesday night when they hosted Girona, courtesy of goals from Diego Godin and Antoine Griezmann, but the Madrid side wasn't at their best for most of the game.
Barca currently hold an eight-point lead over Los Colchoneros at the top of La Liga, but a win at the Camp Nou would bring Atletico within five points of the defending title-holders.
Check out 90min's preview of the huge La Liga clash between Barcelona and Atletico Madrid.
Where to Watch
|What Is Kickoff?||Saturday 6 April|
|What Time Is Kickoff?||19:45 (BST)|
|Where Is it Played?||Camp Nou|
|TV Channel/Live Stream||N/A|
Barcelona are set to be without Ousmane Dembele and Rafinha Alcantara for the match on Saturday night. Dembele is still recovering from a hamstring issue but the club are confident he will be ready to take on Manchester United in the Champions League quarter finals next week. The Blaugrana will also be missing Chilean midfielder Arturo Vidal who is suspended for the match due to yellow card accumulation.
Atletico will be short on attacking players with Diego Costa and Alvaro Morata both picking up knocks in recent weeks and set to miss this clash. Morata picked up an ankle injury towards the end of Atletico's previous match with Girona while Costa and Thomas Lemar both picked up muscle injuries when taking on Alaves.
Lucas Hernandez underwent successful knee surgery last week ahead of the 23-year-old's summer move to Bayern Munich so he will also be out for the fixture at the Camp Nou.
|Barcelona||Ter Stegen; Alba, Pique, Umtiti, Roberto; Arthur, Busquets, Rakitic; Coutinho, Suarez, Messi|
|Atletico||Oblak; Luis, Godin, Gimenez; Rodri, Koke, Partay, Saul, Arias, Griezmann, Correa|
Head to Head Record
The two sides are set to face off for the 209th time in their long histories with Barca holding the all-time record between the two clubs, winning 93 and drawing 50. The remaining 65 matches between the sides have been won by Atletico, most recently coming in the 2015/16 Champions League quarter-final. The Blaugrana have controlled the series in recent years, winning six and drawing four in their previous ten matches played.
In the first La Liga fixture between the sides back in November, the game ended in a 1-1 draw with Diego Costa scoring for the hosts before Barca stole a point in the 90th minute courtesy of Dembele.
The Blaugrana, and particularly Lionel Messi have been on fire in recent months, claiming two big wins against Real Madrid and advancing to the Champions League quarter-finals after overcoming Lyon. The only slip-up for Barca came in the Supercopa de Catalunya against Girona when they went down 1-0.
Atletico has been relatively inconsistent over their recent fixtures, winning three and losing two. One of the losses came at the hands of Juventus when Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat-trick to send them out of Europe's biggest club competition.
Here's how each side has fared in their previous five matches in all competitions.
|Villarreal 4-4 Barcelona (02/04)||Atletico 2-0 Girona (02/04)|
|Barcelona 2-0 Espanyol (30/03)||Alaves 0-4 Atletico (30/03)|
|Real Betis 1-4 Barcelona (17/03)||Athletic Bilbao 2-0 Atletico (16/03)|
|Barcelona 5-1 Lyon (13/03)||Juventus 3-0 Atletico (12/03)|
|Barcelona 3-1 Rayo Vallecano||Atletico 1-0 Leganes (09/03)|
With Atletico missing several key players for the match at the Camp Nou, it will be tough for them to take down a surging Barca side. However the Blaugrana showed some weakness on the counter-attack against Villarreal and this may be Atletico's best opportunity to take any points away from home.
Messi has been exceptional, as always, for Barca in recent weeks but some of his goals have been stunning even by his own lofty standards. His side will have to be much more organised on the defensive side of the ball if they are to continue their ten-match unbeaten streak against Los Rojiblancos.
Despite the lack of attacking options for Atletico, their defence is always trustworthy and Griezmann will be keen on showing Barcelona his full skillset. In the end, the squads will draw for a second time this season and the title race will be in Barca's hands for the rest of the campaign.
Prediction: Barcelona 2-2 Atletico