La Liga: Messi, Barcelona must win against Atletico Madrid

Atletico Madrid team [PHOTO: @atletienglish]
Atletico Madrid team [PHOTO: @atletienglish]

Behind the scenes at Nou Camp, things are not going smoothly but all is not lost. This why the match against Atletico Madrid is a do or die affair.

Atletico are an in-form team with three straight wins and have risen from seventh place to third on the La Liga table after the restart.

Barcelona have not been woeful but have dropped points to Sevilla and relegation-threatened Celta Vigo.

That game prompted Luis Suarez to blame the coaching of the team for the dropped points, which is where they have the challenge–having won just six of their 16 away matches.

But they have been imperial at the Nou Camp–winning 15, though unfortunately, they only dropped points to Real Madrid, which gives the new La Liga leaders the tiebreaker in case both teams end the season level on points.

Madrid have won all four matches after the restart which enabled them to close the gap before leapfrogging the Catalans after their hard-fought 1-0 win over Espanyol.

The rumblings at Barcelona suggest a club in crisis but there is still the magical Lionel Messi pulling the strings and with him, anything is possible. In an unprecedented move, Barcelona president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, is reported to have gone, in the company of some board members, to visit the embattled manager, Quique Setien, at his home on Monday.

That action emphasises the jittery nature of those that call the shots in the camp of the 26-time league champions. When a board gives such approval to a manager, it is normally the kiss of death.

Sergio Busquets should come back into the side after serving a one-match suspension while dependable right-back, Sergi Roberto is back from injury. But Diego Simeone will miss his influential captain, Koke, who is out because of suspension.

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Matches between these two teams have lately become tight affairs especially since Simeone took over. But in the last 10 meetings, Atletico have only beaten the Catalans once though it was their last clash, the Spanish Super Cup, in January.

After Sevilla, Atletico is Messi’s favourite team as the Argentine has scored 31 goals in 40 matches against the Rojiblancos and we can say that his side needs goal number 32 now more than ever before.

The salient question is, will Barcelona win despite Messi’s goals?

Recent Form: Barcelona [D-W-D-W-W]; Atletico [W-W-W-W-D]

Head to head

09/01/20 SUC Barcelona 2 – 3 Atletico

01/12/19 LAL Atletico 0 – 1 Barcelona

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06/04/19 LAL Barcelona 2 – 0 Atletico

24/11/18 LAL Atletico 1 – 1 Barcelona

04/03/18 LAL Barcelona 1 – 0 Atletico

Prediction: Barcelona 2-1 Atletico

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