As two of the biggest clubs in Spanish football, a meeting of Atletico Madrid and FC Barcelona is always exciting for fans. This match-up has brought some truly spectacular matches in recent times, including last year when Atletico managed to win the title for only the third time since the 1990s. This particular match-up, though, will see both teams arrive to play one another in less than stellar form.
Ateltico have won just two of their last six, including a 3-game losing streak, while Barcelona have three wins in six.
The home side will be heading into this one looking to continue to play the Xavi style. The former academy player joined up from Al Sadd in Qatar after Ronald Koeman was sacked. Results so far have been unimpressive, but he has hauled the Catalan giants back into 5th despite having so many issues to contend with on and off the pitch.
A decent style of play has evolved, and goals are being scored with more regularity. However, something will need to be done about the 23 conceded in just 21 games. With new arrivals likely set to be on the bench, though, this could be the ideal chance for the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to make his Barcelona bow.
Expect Xavi to put together a more ball-dominant side as he looks to change fortunes in this fixture. Barca have won just one of their last six against Atletico overall.
The away side arrive with a season-saving win against Valencia behind them. 2-0 down at home to a Los Che side struggling big time, Diego Simeone and co. managed to see a late 3-2 win that sent the stadium into bedlam. It was enough to keep Atletico in 4th spot, though Los Colchoneros must be disappointed to see themselves fighting with others for a UEFA Champions League spot as opposed to contending the title.
However, this match will see Atletico arrive knowing they must win to keep Barcelona at bay. A win would see them move four clear of Barca; a los would see them fall into fifth. This would simply add even more questions for Simeone and co. to answer, and the reigning champions need to do something to show they can recover.
A tough away fixture at a Barcelona side slowly but surely finding some form, though, will not be easy.
Expect a tight and tough match, with both teams struggling to score goals in excess (36 for Atletico, 32 for Barcelona). However, the fact both teams are conceding more than a goal per game – and the fact that both teams are seeing some forwards find form, or are fielding new players, could change how the match-up works.
This is not an easy match for either, and the repercussions for the rest of the season could be pretty incredible. However, with both sides in such inconsistent form, it is hard to determine a clear winner in what could be a stodgy, tactical affair.
BET: DRAW 1-1