Let us take you on a trip back in time.
Please rewind to just a little over one year ago. It was a Sunday night, at Camp Nou, with a great duel ahead. Atlético Madrid, as always, came to the Catalan capital with one objective: defend and win, as they had done before. Diego Simeone was doing well with a lesser squad in comparison to his opponent, but he was good enough as coach to lead his players to a great win on the road.
The hosts were a complete mess. Just seven days earlier, Barcelona went to the Anoeta for their annual visit to hell against Real Sociedad, and lost again just to follow tradition. There was one problem: the two biggest stars were left on the bench, because both had huge issues with the coach. The biggest star actually got into an argument with the coach, the team lost, and was lost.
The week leading up to that fateful Sunday was full of controversy, strong statements and one promise: if he lost to Atlético, Luis Enrique was going to be fired. The fans hated him, and wanted him out. The same for Lionel Messi, or at least that's what it looked like. The pressure was gigantic, and a loss would set up an unprecedented crisis inside the Catalan giants.
And then the 'MSN' trio was born.
Messi, Neymar and Luis Suárez all scored, the rest of the team played a fantastic match and Barça completely destroyed the Colchoneros. One of the most iconic pictures in football history was taken, and one of the most spectacular teams in football history was formed.
All because of that Sunday against Atlético Madrid.
Fast forward to today, just a few hours away from another encounter between Barça and Atleti, and think about how much has changed since then. The Blaugrana are now a world-destroying team carrying a 25-game unbeaten streak. The Colchoneros have gone through another roster turnover, formed a better team and are now again a true title contender.
Saturday is going to be so great.
The Friday training session was full of good news for Luis Enrique and everyone rooting for Barça: Jordi Alba and Arda Turan, who missed the midweek Cup game against Athletic Bilbao, have rejoined the team, practiced normally and are fit for the match. The other injury doubt, Neymar Jr., did recover from the knock on his foot against Bilbao and will not be out of this Saturday's encounter.
Nobody is suspended, which means the squad will be fully available for selection. With Claudio Bravo putting his league gloves on, we should see an outfield lineup with Dani Alves, Gerard Piqué, Javier Mascherano and Jordi Alba on defense. Sergio Busquets and Andrés Iniesta, who saw very few minutes (none in case of Iniesta) against Bilbao, are certain to be back alongside Ivan Rakitic in midfield.
Up front, the 'MSN' trio will definitely play. Neymar's status is a little doubtful, so maybe his impact won't be the same fighting through pain, but Messi and Suárez are fully healthy and ready to create plenty of chances at the Camp Nou.
It won't be easy, obviously, against the best defense in La Liga. But as this team has proven game after game, they can overcome everything.
It has been a strange season for Diego Simeone. His men have played exceptionally well, but the defense is still carrying the whole team. Other than the fantastic Antoine Griezmann, no Atleti player has been able to hurt the opposition on offense. Jackson Martínez has failed miserably to live up to the hype and transfer fee involved in his arrival at the Vicente Calderón, and new signing Luciano Vietto is the only one coming close to a reliable partner for Griezmann.
Fernando Torres, A.K.A. "Barça Killer", is a major doubt for Saturday with injury, so that's one less thing the Blaugranes need to worry about.
Atlético Madrid: WWWDDL
Atlético Madrid 1-2 FC Barcelona - September 12th, 2015 - La Liga
Barcelona (4-3-3): Bravo; Alves, Piqué, Mascherano, Alba; Busquets, Rakitic, Iniesta; Messi, Suárez, Neymar
Atlético Madrid (4-4-2): Oblak; Juanfran, Giménez, Godín, Luís; Ñíguez, Fernández, Gabi, Koke; Vietto, Griezmann
This will be hard, we know, and I'm not really feeling great about it. It's at Camp Nou and all, but Atlético will come with everything. But... fine, we win 2-1 with a Messi brace.