Preview and Prediction
The duel of two best friends is eventually on the clock. Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez who had been team mates for five years in Camp Nou, will have to face off instead of working side by side as they used to be this weekend as Barcelona is visiting Wanda Metropolitano. The game is essential for both teams and stars who are looking for more consistency in their form.
The teams’ updated news
Before the international break, both sealed positive results at home. Los Rojiblancos crushed the potential dark horse Cadiz 4-0. The Portuguese youngster Joao Felix bagged a brace followed by Marcos Llorente’s strike and last but not least, Luis Suarez’s goal.
Blaugrana was no different. They dismantled Real Betis 5-2 without Messi in the starting IX. Ousmane Dembele opened the scoring but Antonio Sanabria managed to equalise. The goal galore finally took place in the second half. Griezmann scored and Messi’s penalty doubled their lead. Yet, Loren Moron was able to pull one back for the visitors. Unfortunately, Messi’s magic continued as he netted his brace plus another goal from Pedri. It was a necessary win for Koeman’s men to end their domestic negative trend in the past four matches.
Diego Simeone is likely to deploy none but his classic 4-4-2 formation. The combination of Luis Suarez and Joao Felix has been daunting on Atletico’s attacking line, supported by Saul Niguez, Marcos Llorente, Lucas Torreira and Koke in the midfield area. Luckily, on the injury table, only Yannick Carrasco, Vitolo, Sime Vrsaljko are sidelined for this fixture.
Meanwhile, Ronald Koeman might consider resting Messi from the line up first as he did in the previous outing. Such decision seems acceptable now, especially after the international break. Yet, since Ansu Fati, Phillipe Coutinho, Samuel Umtiti, Ronald Araujo and Sergio Busquets have to sit out due to their injury, the former Dutch captain in 1990s could employ 4-3-2-1 formation. Frankie De Jong is likely to anchor their midfield accompanied by Carles Alena and Riqui Puig or Miralem Pjanic. On the attack, Pedri and Antoine Griezmann or Trincao will be supporting Dembele before Messi is brought on to substitute one of them on the second half.
Players to watch
Los Choconeros’ new signing, Luis Suarez has not lost his killing instinct yet in the penalty box. The Uruguayan star has contributed five goals and one assists so far, which is just below Atletico’s future key man, Joao Felix who has netted seven goals and provided two assists in all competition. This dynamic duo is expected to thrive this season.
Messi’s contribution for his team is still inevitably dominant with six goals and two assists in all competitions. However, the more interesting one is to find out who the next notable ones on the pitch are. Ousmane Dembele and Pedri or Sergi Roberto are the best candidates for such.
Atletico vs Barcelona Prediction
This supposedly mouthwatering clash could potentially lose its excitement and the intensity of the game itself as both teams’ key men have just returned from the international fixtures this midweek. The fatigue might threaten their physical fitness. Thus, a draw seems to be the fairest result.