It’s the game of the La Liga weekend, and by some distance.
A win at the Wanda Metropolitano is a tall order at the best of times, let alone when the Rojiblancos are the only unbeaten side in the division and Barca are still feeling their way into the season.
An uphill task it may be, but the blaugranes, on the face of it at least, were handed a stroke of luck with Luis Suarez having tested positive for coronavirus.
However, what seems to have been missed in the conversation surrounding the game is that, of all of Atleti’s strikers, El Pistolero is probably the one that the Barca back line would’ve been most comfortable containing.
Yes, Suarez has hit the ground running and has scored goals - as expected - however, he has no pace whatsoever to speak of now, so if he were to be up against Pique et al, the only way he’s finding the net is with an opportune strike.
I’d be far more concerned with what else Atleti have to offer in an attacking sense.
In turn, should they be worried by the firepower that Ronald Koeman will bring to the party? Unlikely in the current moment.
Lionel Messi has been consistently crowded out of matches, and Ousmane Dembele has been erratic at best. Excellent some weeks, poor the next, as per.
Which brings us to Antoine Griezmann as Ansu Fati is out and a Martin Braithwaite start is as rare as hen’s teeth.
This game, against his old employers, is now the perfect opportunity for him to, finally, come to the fore in a big game for Barca.
Not to just score a goal or two, but to shine bright. To lead the line. To prove that the money invested in him wasn’t a complete waste.
With Sergio Busquets sidelined, expect to see Miralem Pjanic start in his place, allowing Frenkie de Jong to burst forward and supplement the attack as needed.
Koeman has enough in an attacking sense to make life difficult for the hosts, but the dominos need to fall into place here.
A defeat and other results going against us could see Barca ensconced in the bottom half of the table come the end of the weekend.
There should be no more motivating factor needed than that for the players - particularly Griezmann - to put in the shift of the season.
Another personal failure here, and serious consideration needs to be given to his standing within the team moving forward.