It’s only Matchday 10, but Barcelona’s meeting today with Atlético Madrid could go a long way to deciding if the Catalans are even in the title race this season. Currently sitting in 8th place with 11 points (with two games in hand), the Blaugana need to get a result at the Wanda Metropolitano to keep Atlético in reach. The Madrid club are currently in 3rd place with 17 points, but also have games in hand.
Like any match in the times of the pandemic, this match is almost as much about who isn’t available than who is. The biggest loss for Barcelona is Sergio Busquets, who was injured for a week to 10 days while on international duty with Spain. On the other side Luis Suárez will need to wait to face his former team due to an outbreak of the virus within the Uruguay squad.
For a number of reasons, Atlético will also be without Lucas Torreira, Héctor Herrera and Sime Vrsaljko, and could be without Stefan Savic, Diego Costa and Vitolo.
Barcelona are dealing with injuries to Ansu Fati and Ronald Araujo, and Samuel Umtiti has yet ot regain his fitness. Fortunately for the Blaugrana, Philippe Coutinho comes back into the team after missing a few matches due to injury. Messi, meanwhile, is one of the rare South American players that was able to avoid any fallout from the virus.
This season Atlético have been the better side and João Félix has arguably been the best player in all of La Liga. The 21-year-old already has five goals and three assists in seven games and is a major reason why the Colchoneros have a +15 goal differential.
Ronald Koeman has not had the best start to his time in Catalonia, but a win over Atlético could go a long way. Diego Simeone has never beaten the Blaugrana in La Liga, an incredible stat that even extends for Atlético more than a decade. One of the biggest reasons for this streak is the magic of Messi; the Argentine averages 0.78 goals against the Colchoneros.
Barcelona (4-2-3-1): ter Stegen; Alba, Piqué, Lenglet, Roberto; de Jong, Pjanic; Coutinho, Messi, Dembélé; Griezmann
Atlético (4-4-2): Oblak; Hermoso, Giménez, Savic, Trippier; Koke, Saúl, Kondogbia, Correa; Félix, Llorente
Dan Hilton is an American journalist, broadcaster, and current Editor-in-Chief of BarcaBlog. Extensive work as a play-by-play broadcaster, producer behind the scenes, and quite average player in his younger years has given him a well-rounded and informative perspective on the sport. Alongside BarcaBlog founder Francesc, Dan started The Barcelona Podcast in 2017.