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Preview: Atletico Madrid vs. Barcelona - prediction, team news, lineups
02/10/2021 11:24:19

Fresh from Wednesday's three-goal loss to Benfica in the Champions League, Barcelona will resume their La Liga campaign with a clash against Atletico Madrid at Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday night.


The defeat in Portugal piled the pressure on Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman, but Spanish champions Atletico will enter the match off the back of an impressive 2-1 victory at AC Milan in the Champions League.


We say: Atletico Madrid 1-1 Barcelona


Atletico, for many people, will be the clear favourites heading into this match, but we are not expecting it to be a straightforward contest for the home side. Barcelona still have so much talent despite their issues, and we have a sneaky feeling that Koeman's team will be good enough for a point on Saturday night.


Match preview


Atletico made a strong to their 2021-22 La Liga title defence, winning four and drawing two of their first six matches, but they have dropped down into fourth spot in the table courtesy of last weekend's shock defeat at Alaves, who had lost every league game this season ahead of the clash with the capital giants.


Diego Simeone's side are only three points behind division leaders Real Madrid, though, and as mentioned, will enter this match off the back of an impressive Champions League win, having come from behind to beat Italian giants AC Milan at San Siro on Tuesday night.


Milan took the lead in the 20th minute of the contest through Rafael Leao, but Antoine Griezmann levelled the scores in the 84th minute before Luis Suarez came up with a spectacular 97th-minute winner for the visitors.


Atletico will now be looking to return to winning ways in Spain's top flight and pile the pressure on Koeman, who is expected to remain in charge for Saturday's clash at Wanda Metropolitano, although the Dutchman will not actually be on the bench, as he is serving the second of a two-game touchline suspension.


The Red and Whites recorded a 1-0 win over Barcelona when the two teams met in Madrid last season, and the capital giants are actually unbeaten in their last three La Liga contests with Saturday's opponents, having picked up a point in a goalless draw when they last met at Camp Nou in May.


Barring any surprises, there will not be a change of manager at Barcelona ahead of this match, but it seems unlikely that Koeman will keep his job for much longer unless there is a huge turnaround in form.


Barcelona have not been at their best in La Liga this season, but it has not been a disastrous start, as they are still unbeaten across six matches, recording three wins and three draws to collect 12 points, which has left them in sixth position in the table, five points off leaders Real Madrid with a game in hand.


Indeed, a win on Saturday makes the picture a lot prettier for the Catalan giants, but they are bottom of their Champions League group, having lost their opening two fixtures 3-0 to Bayern Munich and Benfica.


The Catalan giants recorded a 3-0 win over Levante in the league last time out, but they have struggled to draws with Granada and Cadiz in recent weeks, and there is no question that it has been difficult for the team to find their rhythm after a tough summer, largely due to their financial problems.


Whether Koeman is still in charge for the clash with Valencia on October 17 remains to be seen, but Barcelona, despite their issues, have the players to go and win at Wanda Metropolitano, and it will be fascinating to see what occurs in the Spanish capital on Saturday night.


Team News


Kieran Trippier was substituted in the first half of Atletico's Champions League clash with Milan on Tuesday, and the England international is believed to be a doubt for this weekend's contest.


Simeone's side are otherwise in excellent shape, though, meaning that the head coach has a number of decisions to make, especially in the final third of the field.


Stefan Savic was suspended for the Champions League clash with Milan but should return to the side here, while Joao Felix, Rodrigo De Paul and Renan Lodi are pushing to be involved in the first XI.


Griezmann, as mentioned, came off the bench to score last time out, but the France international is again expected to be among the substitutes against his parent club.


As for Barcelona, Ousmane Dembele, Sergio Aguero, Martin Braithwaite and Alejandro Balde are all unavailable, while Pedri has been left out of the squad due to a thigh issue.


Koeman is expected to make changes from the side that started against Benfica, and it would not be a surprise to see the Catalan outfit revert to a four-man defence after struggling with three at the back in Portugal, with fit-again Jordi Alba in the side.


Gerard Pique was substituted in the first half of the game against Benfica, but it was a tactical decision rather than an enforced alteration, and the experienced centre-back is expected to be in the XI here.


Ansu Fati is unlikely to be considered for a start, having only just returned from a long-term knee problem, meaning that there could be a spot in the final third of the field for Philippe Coutinho.


Atletico Madrid possible starting lineup:

Oblak; Llorente, Savic, Felipe, Lodi; Koke, Kondogbia, De Paul, Carrasco; Suarez, Felix


Barcelona possible starting lineup:

Ter Stegen; Dest, Pique, Araujo, Alba; F de Jong, Busquets, Roberto; Memphis, L de Jong, Coutinho

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