Barcelona v Atlético Madrid predictions and match preview for Saturday’s La Liga match. Read on for the head-to-head, team news and predicted line-ups as both sides prepare to lock horns in what promises to be an exhilarating clash at the summit of the table.
|Saturday 8th May 2021
|16:15 (local time)
Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid Preview
Crescendo – noun.
‘The highest point reached in a progressive increase of intensity’.
They say in music that there is nothing more captivating than the crescendo, and amidst the most competitive title race in seven years, LaLiga is quickly reaching its pinnacle.
That just two points separate Barcelona and league leaders Atlético Madrid, where a win for either side still will not guarantee their eventual coronation, or that there are still two other sides locked in this titanic struggle – both of whom play each other on Sunday night – this clash promises so much from an entertainment standpoint. Both clubs, due to their inferior head-to-head record with fellow title rivals Real Madrid, have simply got to secure all three points.
Allow me to start with the hosts. Having taken over following the 8-2 drubbing at the hands of Bayern Munich, few would have dared to predict Ronald Koeman leading Barcelona to two domestic cup finals and a potential league title during his first – and quite possibly still his only – year in charge, but that is exactly what he has done. Having stumbled out of the starting gate – breaking unwanted records on the way – the Dutchman has, to his credit, steadied the ship, and now finds himself potentially one win from the top.
The home hiccup against Granada aside, the Catalans have only lost one of their previous 23 league games, that an unlucky 2-1 defeat away to Real Madrid, and boast considerable form heading into a clash in which they traditionally perform admirably. With Messi leading the goalscoring charts and Antoine Griezmann playing his best football to date in a Blaugrana shirt, there may indeed be room for optimism in Barcelona.
Conversely, having romped to what seemed an unassailable lead early on, Atlético Madrid’s grip on the title has slowly faded into what looks like potential obscurity. At one point they lead Barcelona by a whopping thirteen points, yet through a combination of poor performances and results, their once comfortable lead has been clawed back to the aforementioned two points.
Some may point to injuries, yet a squad with such immense resources and depth should not be dependent on the quality of two or three attacking players, and the stats are damning. Messi leads the Pichichi race with 28 goals, while his strike partner Griezmann sits a creditable seventh with 12 goals. Luis Suárez, Atlético’s talisman, sits fourth on 19. His closest pursuer from their front ranks? João Félix. He’s only managed seven. It may be worrying for head coach Diego Simeone that midfielder Marcos Llorente has managed nearly twice as many goals (12) as Félix and Ángel Correa combined (14).
After falling disappointingly to Granada the fate of the title no longer rests in the hands of Barcelona. Yet with Real Madrid still facing stern tests against Sevilla, Athletic Club and Villarreal, and having gotten back to winning ways at Mestalla on Sunday, they will be well aware of the necessity three points carries.
Head to Head
- Last 6 Competitive Meetings: 2 Barcelona wins, 2 Atlético Madrid wins, 2 draws.
- Atlético Madrid ran out 1-0 winners at the Wanda Metropolitano earlier this season.
- Diego Simeone has yet to win a league game at Camp Nou as coach of Atlético Madrid.
- The sides drew 2-2 here last season.
Ansu Fati and Philippe Coutinho will miss the remainder of the season, while Martin Braithwaite should return to the squad. The return to full fitness of dynamic winger Ousmane Dembélé adds further depth.
Atlético come into the clash with a fully fit squad, but for a thigh injury sustained to Renan Lodi, which ruled him out of their win over Elche. His inclusion in this game remains in doubt.
It is also worth noting that Barcelona will be without head coach Ronald Koeman, who will serve the second of his two-game ban.
Predicted Barcelona Starting Lineup:
Ter Stegen – Lenglet, Piqué, Mingueza – Alba, Pedri, Busquets, De Jong, Dest – Griezmann, Messi (3-5-2)
Predicted Atleti Starting Lineup:
Oblak – Hermoso, Giménez, Savić – Lemar, Saúl, Llorente, Trippier – Koke, Correa – Suárez (3-4-2-1)
Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid Prediction: Barcelona to win 2-1
With the hosts carrying slightly better form and with Messi in scintillating form, it is difficult to look past a home win. This, coupled with a key injury in defence for the visitors, makes me think Barcelona will hold on for yet another narrow league win, potentially paving the way for their eternal rivals to go on and claim their 35th league title, and second in succession.