Atletico Madrid vs Barcelona Preview
Possible starting lineups:
Oblak; Trippier, Felipe, Hermoso, Lodi; Koke, Llorente, Herrera, Vitolo; Felix, Morata
Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Pique, Umtiti, Junior; Arthur, Vidal, De Jong; Griezmann, Suarez, Messi
Fourth-placed Atletico Madrid will host the league leaders Barcelona. Los Rojiblancos currently are three point behind Barcelona and Real Madrid who are both tied on 28 points. However, due to El Clasico's postponement, Atletico have played one game more. I expect an interesting clash at Wanda Metropolitano. The presence of Antoine Griezmann give the derby some additional spice. The Frenchman is now wearing the Blaugrana colours, so it will be interesting to see the fans' reaction. Some of the fans will definitely turn against him. The fact is Simeone missed Griezmann and his goals. Atletico is struggling to score this season and have netted only 16 goals on 14 matches in La Liga. Just for comparison, Barcelona have scored 35, while Real 28 goals. The actual form isn't at desired level too. Simeone's men have just one win on the last four matches across all competitions. They managed to beat Espanyol with 3:1 in domestic Primera Division, but lost twice in the Champions League - from Bayer Leverkusen and Juventus. An 1:1 draw with Granada is also a poor result. Midfielders Saul Niguez and Thomas Partey, who missed the game with Granada through suspension, are available. Simeone continue to miss central defenders Stevan Savic and Jose Gimenez due to injury. Striker Diego Costa is not expected to be in action until February after undergoing neck surgery. The Golden Boy award winner Joao Felix will probably start after coming off the bench against Juventus in the Champions League. Sime Vrsaljko is still recovering from a knee injury.
Barcelona are on the first place with 28 points. Real Madrid also have 28, but inferior goal-difference. The Blaugrana have a record of nine victories, one draw and three defeats. What is a worrying fact ahead of this match, all three defeats were suffered away from home. While they won all six of their matches at the Camp Nou, Valverde's men have been far from convincing on their travels. So far Barca have lost at Athletic Bilbao, Granada and Levante. Last weekend they weren't impressive too, even beat last placed Leganes in the suburbs of Madrid. The Catalans came from behind and won 2:1 thanks to the second-half goals scored by Luis Suarez and Arturo Vidal. Barcelona were also superior in the Champions League as they beat Borussia Dortmund with 3:1. Messi registered his 613th goal on his 700th appearance for the club. Suarez and Griezmann proved their good form as they netted the remaining two goals on Wednesday. The victory means Barcelona secured the first place in the group regardless of the results in the last round. For this match Valverde has three worries. Nelson Semedo and Jordi Alba are struggling with injuries, while Sergio Busquets is not available after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season against Leganes in the last round.
Atletico Madrid vs Barcelona Prediction
Simeone is doing a fantastic job since taking over in December 2011. He won the title in 2013/14 season and lead the club to two Champions League finals. But the Argentinian coach has little success in the matches with Blaugrana. He failed to beat Barcelona in La Liga, losing 13 of the 18 mutual games. I see something similar again. Barcelona are in series of three victories in all competitions. With strikers like Messi, Suarez and Griezmann, Barca they could outscore any team. It will be very hard for Atletico to stop them, particularly because Simeone is missing some defenders.
Atletico Madrid vs Barcelona Pick
: Away win @ 2.70 with Pinnacle