FC Barcelona (1st, 70pts) vs Atlético Madrid (2nd, 62pts)
Competition/Round: 2018-19 La Liga, Matchday 31
Barcelona Outs & Doubts: Arturo Vidal, Ousmane Dembélé, Rafinha, Thomas Vermaelen, Jean-Clair Todibo (out)
Atlético Outs & Doubts: Lucas Hernández, Thomas Lemar, Álvaro Morata (out), Diego Costa (doubt)
Date/Time: Saturday, April 6, 2019, 8.45pm CET (Barcelona), 7.45pm BST/WAT (UK & Nigeria), 2.45pm ET, 11.45am PT (USA), 12.15am IST (India, Sunday)
Venue: Camp Nou, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
Referee: Jesús Gil Manzano (NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO)
How to watch on TV: beIN SPORTS (USA & Canada), Eleven Sports 1 (UK), SuperSport 7 (Nigeria), Movistar Partidazo (Spain), others
How to stream: beIN SPORTS CONNECT (USA & Canada), Movistar+ (Spain), fuboTV (watch for free), others
Welcome to the biggest La Liga game of the season. The scenario is simple: Barcelona enter this one eight points ahead of Atlético Madrid. If they win, they’ll be 11 points clear with seven games and a very nice schedule left, which means the title will be pretty much guaranteed; if Atlético win, they’ll be five points behind Barça, and although the Blaugrana have that nice schedule they’ll be under pressure to not drop any more points while also facing Manchester United and potentially Liverpool in the Champions League.
Diego Simeone simply can’t beat Barça in La Liga, and even when they won the league at Camp Nou in 2014 it was only a draw. Cholo and his boys are desperate for a victory, and if they finally get it this weekend it might be the start of an amazing title race. Barça have dominated the league all season, but if the Atleti defense is as good as it can be and Antoine Griezmann can have a magical night at the Greatest Stadium on Earth, then things get really interesting.
Despite the trip to Old Trafford in just four days, Ernesto Valverde will not rest anybody in this one. He already did it against Villarreal, and it nearly ended in disaster which would make this Atlético game even bigger. It’ll be an extremely tough game, and Atlético winning is completely possible. But Barça understand just how big a win is, and they’ll try to be at their best. If they are, we can start the title celebration seven games early.
Barcelona (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Semedo, Piqué, Umtiti, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Arthur; Messi, Suárez, Malcom
Atlético (4-4-2): Oblak; Arias, Giménez, Godín, Filipe Luís; Saúl, Partey, Rodrigo, Koke; Griezmann, Diego Costa
I just can’t see either team winning this one. A lot of people might not think this is too important, but it is to the teams and coaches, and the game will reflect that: 1-1 draw, lots of fouls, not a lot of fun.