Barcelona was a total favorite in all of the league games in 2016, until now. Their next opponent in the Spanish league is Atletico Madrid.
Even though Atletico had a rough start with 2 wins and 2 draws, they’re still a worthy opponent. They’ve reached the Champions League last season, and eliminated Barcelona along the way.
They didn’t sold any key players, and their best player Griezmann won player of the tournament in the Euro 2016.
When in top form, Atletico can play and beat every world class team out there. Including Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Barcelona.
Very few teams can cope with the tiki-taka, possession style, and Atletcio is definitely on top of that list. They have an organized and physical defense, skilled midfielders and Grizmann as a striker.
They don’t really get many chances against teams like Bayern and Barcelona, but they always find a way to turn them into a goal.
It’s either a counter attack or a piece of individual magic that makes Atletico so dangerous against big teams. Just like Saul’s goal against Bayern in the first leg:
Barcelona managed to win both league matches last season, but Atletico was better in the Champions League.
One thing is for sure, we’re about to see a great game. Both teams scored 5 or more goals in their last match. Barcelona trashed Leganes 5-1, and Atletcio trashed Gijon 5-0.
Rakitic and Umtiti should be starters
The center of the pitch is where the battle will be fought. Atletico has Koke, Gabi and Saul, physically and skilful players. Barcelona has Busquets, Iniesta and Rakitic, and Rakitic will be key when it comes to regaining possession and stopping counter attack.
Umtiti should replace Mascherano, and Enrique should stick to 4 defenders instead of 3. Mascherano is a solid defender, but he’s not tall enough to stop players like Torres and Godin on set pieces.
We expect from Barca to stick to the usual possession game. Messi could join Iniesta in the playmaker roll, and give Suarez and Neymar a bit more space to operate in the attack.
Another benefit from playing Messi behind Suarez and Neymar are counter attacks. Messi can easily make a crucial pass to the forwards, and let them do their magic.
Both Neymar and Suarez are extremely dangerous on 1-on-1 situations. But only Messi can operate as a playmaker, and join the attack when needed.
The MSN trio will be in the center of attention. After scoring 10 goals in the last two matches, every Barca fan will be expecting them to continue with the scoring streak.
Diego Simeone: “Messi alone is more dangerous than Real Madrid’s attacking trio Ronaldo, Benzema and Bale.”
Simone has a huge respect for Messi, but that doesn’t mean he will go easy on him. Atletico is known as a tough team, and ready to use force when necessary.
The only thing Barcelona has to worry about is taking control over the match right from the start. Atletico will be hoping to press Barcelona, score, retreat and look for a counter attack to secure the win.
It will be vital for Barcelona to avoid amateur mistakes, like the one against Alaves.