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Atlético Madrid vs Barcelona, La Liga: Team News, Match Preview

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Barça begin a brutal end-of-year schedule with a tough away game that could set the tone of the title race

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FC Barcelona v Real Betis - La Liga Santander Photo by Eric Alonso/Getty Images

Atlético Madrid (3rd, 17pts) vs FC Barcelona (8th, 11pts)*


*Points and positions at the time of writing on Friday

Competition/Round: 2020-21 La Liga, Matchday 10

Barcelona Outs & Doubts: Ansu Fati, Sergio Busquets, Ronald Araujo, Samuel Umtiti (out)

Atlético Outs & Doubts: Luis Suárez, Lucas Torreira, Héctor Herrera, Sime Vrsaljko (out), Stefan Savic, Diego Costa, Vitolo (doubt)

Date/Time: Saturday, November 21, 2020, 9pm CET/WAT (Barcelona & Nigeria), 8pm GMT (UK), 3pm ET, 12pm PT (USA), 1.30am IST (India, Sunday)

Venue: Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid, Spain

Referee: José Luis Munuera Montero

VAR: Ricardo De Burgos Bengoetxea

How to watch on TV: beIN SPORTS (USA & Canada), LaLigaTV (UK), SuperSport (Nigeria), Movistar LaLiga (Spain), Not Available (India), others

How to stream: FuboTV (USA), Premier Player (UK), Facebook Live (India), Movistar+ (Spain), others


Following the final international break of 2020, Barcelona return to action to begin an insane end-of-year schedule with a trip to the Wanda Metropolitano to face a red-hot Atlético Madrid team.

Diego Simeone’s side has been nearly unstoppable to start the season, unbeaten after seven games with a plus-15 goal differential and a whopping 17 goals scored, an offensive output we don’t usually see from the Colchoneros.

Barça legend Luis Suárez has been a big reason for Atleti’s hot start, but the Pistolero is out after multiple positive tests for Covid-19. Lucas Torreira, another Uruguayan who’s played extremely well for his new team is also out due to the virus, and it remains to be seen how big their absences will be on Saturday.

But it’s still safe to assume Atlético will look extremely good on Saturday, and they’re still excellent at home despite not having their great fans in the stadium. The defense is just as good, the attack looks awesome, and this might be Simeone’s best chance to finally beat Barcelona in La Liga for the first time in his career.

Barça will begin a four-month period without Ansu Fati but they have Philippe Coutinho back, and players like Pedri and Ousmane Dembélé are also expected to step up big to replace the Phenom. Antoine Griezmann has been playing better (despite the misses) and Lionel Messi is Lionel Messi. The defense is always a problem, and inconsistency has been the theme of Ronald Koeman’s tenure so far.

The Blaugrana have been terrible in big games under the Dutchman, and this is the perfect opportunity to show their strength against arguably the best team in Spain right now. Atlético are clear title contenders, and a loss would put Barça nine points behind them after just eight games, and that might be just too big a gap to overcome. So this is a must-win AND must-perform for the Catalans, and this should be all sorts of fun.

Let’s dance.


POSSIBLE LINEUPS

Barcelona (4-4-2): Ter Stegen; Roberto, Piqué, Lenglet, Alba; Dembélé, Pjanic, De Jong, Pedri; Messi, Griezmann

Atlético (4-4-2): Oblak; Trippier, Savic, Giménez, Hermoso; Correa, Kondogbia, Saúl, Koke; Llorente, João Félix


PREDICTION

Lionel Messi turns into Shawn Michaels whenever he plays Atleti, and as good as the Colchoneros are this season I’ll still trust the Heartbreak Kid: 3-2 Barça.