David Jones from La Liga Online previews the big game coming up this weekend as Atletico Madrid host Barcelona in La Liga on Saturday night.
Barcelona seem to be regressing while Atletico Madrid are going from strength to strength. As things stand, Atletico are third in the La Liga table with 17 points from seven matches, while Barcelona have picked up just 11 points from seven games.
The Rojiblancos are three points behind leaders Real Sociedad, who have played nine matches. True, Atletico are not having the best of times in the Champions League, but in La Liga, Diego Simeone’s side are doing extremely well. The Madrid outfit have scored 17 goals in seven league matches and have the league’s best defence, having conceded just twice. In their last game before the two-week international break, Atletico hammered Cadiz 4-0 at home in the league. Luiz Suarez, so unceremoniously let go by Barcelona in the summer of 2020, scored once in that match, taking his tally to five goals in six appearances in La Liga for Atletico this season.
Joao Felix is having a wonderful season. The 21-year-old forward has scored five goals and provided two assists in seven league matches and has found the back of the net twice in three Champions League games, according to WhoScored. The Portugal international is one of the best and most promising young talents in the world, and he has come into his own and is a joy to watch. Barcelona still have (arguably?) the world’s greatest ever footballer in Lionel Messi, but there is so much the Argentine wizard can do on his own.
The 33-year-old has still scored three goals in the league and has scored three goals and provided three assists in the Champions League. While it is clear that Messi is missing his friend and partner in crime in attack Suarez, Ansu Fati does seem to have forged a strong partnership with Messi. The 18-year-old winger has scored four goals in the league, but he will now miss the next five months with a ruptured internal meniscus in his left knee.
This could open the door for Ousmane Dembele. Atletico will head into the match against Barcelona at the Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday evening as favourites. Although Simeone’s side are banging in the goals for fun at the moment, the home team may decide to play conservatively against the Messi-lead team and could plan to grind out a win. For Barcelona to pick up all three points in Madrid, they need Messi at his best.