Two of the most successful ball clubs in Spanish football are set to test each other’s mettle for their 2017 La Liga game in their quest to better their respective positions in the league table.
FC Barcelona (W-15, D-6, L-2), currently at the second spot in the standings and trailing league leader Real Madrid by a lone point, will try to salvage an away win this Sunday, February 26, against Atletico Madrid (W-13, D-6, L-4) at the Vicente Calderon Stadium located in the Arganzuela district of the Spanish capital.
A victory on Sunday will put the Blaugrana as temporary leaders on the board while awaiting the result of the Real Madrid and Villareal game later in the day. A loss by Cristiano Ronaldo’s squad will put FC Barcelona as the top seed on the table for good.
But, FC Barcelona will have their hands full against Atletico Madrid as they play against a hostile crowd on the home turf of the Los Colchoneros, which can seat close to 55,000 fans. And, they can expect Atletico to play like their backs are against the wall as the home team tries to force a win and put themselves in the running for the championships.
The predicted lineups, as per Independent, follow.
Atletico Madrid (4-4-2): Oblak; Saul, Savic, Godin, Luis; Correa, Gabi, Koke, Carrasco; Gameiro, Griezmann
Barcelona (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Jordia Alba, Umtiti, Pique, Sergi Roberto; Iniesta, Busquets, Rakitic; Neymar, Luis Suarez, Messi
Atletico Madrid will also play extra motivated as they hope to inch closer in the leaderboard and unseat current third place-holder Sevilla. Atletico Madrid is behind by four points at the fourth spot.
Diego Simeone’s squad has already earned a playoff spot for the upcoming season of the Champions League. They are hoping for a win on Sunday, and a Sevilla loss, to reach the top three and get an automatic qualification for the Champions League group stages.
A loss against FC Barcelona, however, could spell disaster for Simeone and Atletico as fifth-place Real Sociedad is only one point behind them. They will need a lot from Kevin Gameiro, Yannick Carrasco and Antoine Griezmann in their match against FC Barcelona in order to counter the three-headed monster of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, and Neymar.
The Catalonia-based football club, on the one hand, must be able to shake off the effects of the demoralizing loss they suffered at the hands of Paris Saint-Germain FC last week, wrote Goal. The visiting FC Barcelona team was humiliated by The Parisians, 4-0, during their round-of-16 Champions League game.
Luis Enrique’s boys must quickly forget about it and take in as much confidence as they can from their most recent 2-1 victory at Camp Nou against the hapless Club Deportivo Leganés that has just been relegated anew to the lower league just after their first-ever promotion to the Primera Division this season.
One of the notables in the match is the return of FC Barcelona midfielder Arda Turan, who was sidelined by a hamstring injury. He could see action against his former team Atletico Madrid and could play his last game at the Vicente Calderón Stadium, which is bound to be demolished later this year.
Both FC Barcelona and Atletico Madrid are undefeated since the start of the year, according to the Telegraph. The two football clubs met earlier in February in the semi-final match of Copa Del Rey. Barca won the two-leg series after a 2-1 away win in their first encounter and a 1-1 draw on the other.
The start time for the Sunday game between Barcelona and Atletico is set at 15:15 GMT and fans can catch the action over at Sky Sports 2.
[Featured Image by Alex Caparros/Getty Images]