Following the arrival of talents such as Joao Felix and Kieran Trippier, much hope was instilled at the Wanda Metropolitano for the 2019/20 season. While Atletico Madrid did get their season off to a decent start, life has been fairly cruel to the Atleti faithful in recent matches, with the team only winning one in their last six matches in all competitions. After being in pole position for the title race, Atleti have now dropped to fifth place in La Liga, while hang onto second place in their Champions League group by just one point. It seems that if there was ever a time for Barca to take advantage of a vulnerable Atleti side, this would be it. Can the Blaugranes produce the goods and pull off a gritty away win?
Let’s start off by taking a look at Atletico’s attacking stats. With only 16 goals in 14 matches, more than half of the league’s teams have scored more goals than Atletico. Even in the Champions League, Atletico have only scored six goals in five games, resulting in a goal difference of +1.
While Alvaro Morata is Atletico’s top scorer in the league, he has only hit the back of the net on five occasions this season, putting him in a tied 11th place in the top scorers’ charts. Star signing Joao Felix has only scored twice and bagged one assist, while clup captain Koke has only managed one goal and assist. Diego Costa has only managed two goals and assists, while left winger Angel Correa has the best assists record with three.
Not only have Atleti lacked danger up front as a collective, but there are also no signs of individual players who possess the impact needed to get their side out of the muck against the likes of Barca. Should Atleti’s current form up front persist, then the defensive battle will be Barca’s to lose. However, the Blaugranes will need to focus on avoiding any further unnecessary mistakes at the back.
Despite poor form up front, Atleti have still maintained a positive goal difference and remained high up on the table. This is due to their defensive form. Having only conceded nine goals in 14 games, Atleti have the best defensive record in the league.
Shot stopper Jan Oblak has kept an impressive seven clean sheets, meaning that he has roughly only conceded a goal in every second game. He is also not Atleti’s only standout player at the back this season, however.
While center back Stefan Savic has only made six La Liga appearances, he has kept a phenomenal five clean sheets. Jose Gimenez has managed to keep five clean sheets in his eight appearances, while Kieran Trippier has kept six clean sheets in 11 outings, with only 0.67 goals being conceded by the Englishman per game. The good news for Barca is that both Savic and Gimenez will miss the game through injury.
This defense may still prove a tough nut to crack, however if there is any side who can find a chink in the armor, it will be Barca. So far this season, the Blaugranes have performed well against top opposition. They have just come off of a 3-1 triumph over Borussia Dortmund in their Champions League group, and previously defeated Inter Milan 2-1 in the same group. Their La Liga fixture against Valencia ended in a resounding 5-2 victory.
Atletico’s results against top opposition have been a different story. They lost 1-0 to Juventus during the Champions League midweek action and were only able to take away one point in their fixtures against Valencia and Sevilla in La Liga. Even their earlier home fixture against Juventus ended in a 2-2 draw, as Atleti appeared fortunate to claw their way back from a 2-0 deficit.
Although Atleti are at home, the Blaugranes will do well to take advantage of a side who has yet to hit top form this season. With the visitors’ proven dominance against even top opposition, spectators can expect to see the main battle take place between Barca’s attackers and Atleti’s defensive lineup. While the stature of Atletico Madrid should still be taken into account, one cannot help but feel that this will be a match that the Blaugranes would be disappointed not to get a result from.