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Atlético Madrid vs Barcelona, 2016 Champions League: Projected Lineups

David Ramos/Getty Images

There is no football game this week bigger than Atlético Madrid and Barcelona's encounter at the Vicente Calderón. The two teams face off for a spot in the Champions League semifinals, and after the craziness of the first leg, we should expect an even better game on Wednesday.

In such a big match, every little detail matters, including the starting lineups. Here's a look at the 22 players Luis Enrique and Diego Simeone are likely to select to being this Wednesday's clash.

Atlético Madrid (4-1-4-1)


Juanfran - Godín - Lucas - Filipe Luís


Saúl - Koke - Gabi - Carrasco


With Fernando Torres suspended, Simeone is expected to make one change: bring defensive midfielder Augusto Fernández to the pivote position and play in a 4-1-4-1 setup. Yannick Carrasco is a threat on the wings, and he should help Antoine Griezmann make dangerous runs through Barça's defense on counter-attacks. Even though they need to win 1-0 to qualify, don't expect Atlético to play any different than their usual football. They won't launch themselves forward all the time, but they will press high and try to hurt Barça's buildup play.

If Simeone wants to stick with a 4-4-2 formation and play another striker in place of Torres, then he has two options: either Ángel Correa, another Griezmann type of player who likes to move around the pitch, or Luciano Vietto, a more direct striker who is always near the goal. Also look out for José Giménez, who could return alongside his Uruguayan national teammate Diego Godín on the back four. If that happens, the Colchoneros defense will be even harder to break through.

Barcelona (4-3-3)

Ter Stegen

Alves - Piqué - Mascherano - Alba

Rakitic - Busquets - Iniesta

Messi - Suárez - Neymar

The Gala XI is back, but is not a choice for Luis Enrique. It's the only true strong lineup left with all the injuries to important rotation pieces. After losing El Clásico and winning against Atleti with the same team last week, it is hard to picture which Gala XI will play at the Calderón: the destructive force of the second half against the Colchoneros, or the apathetic, underwhelming team we saw in the second half against Madrid and in the first period against Atleti. More than tactical or positional changes, this group is lacking form, attitude and the momentum they had in the historic 39-game unbeaten streak.

Some players are tired, other are playing badly, a few -- like Lionel Messi -- are going through both. But just a week ago, this team played 45 amazing minutes against the best defense in Europe. If they can find that football again for the entire 90 minutes, then we can forget losing at Anoeta and the potential crisis. The best team in the world will be back, in a big way.

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