A stuttering Barcelona will host an in-form Atletico Madrid at the Camp Nou in gameweek 33 of La Liga, as the Ctalan giants’ title hopes hang in the balance.
After the recent 2-2 draw against Celta Vigo, Quique Setien’s side are currently trailing league leaders Real Madrid by two points.
When La Liga resumed after the COVID-19-enforced break, Barca were in the driving seat, having a two-point lead over their eternal rivals, but things have changed in recent weeks.
The Blaugrana are struggling to control games, barely getting over the line in their past couple of games. Meanwhile, Los Blancos have won all five of their games since the league restarted.
The fixture against Atletico couldn’t have come at a worse time for Lionel Messi and company, as any slip-ups on Tuesday night could hand a huge advantage to Real Madrid, if they win their game against Getafe later in the week.
That being said, now that the attention switches towards the monumental clash between Barca and Los Rojiblancos, here are five players to look forward to in the game at the Camp Nou.
#5 Ansu Fati (Barcelona)
There’s a lot of hype surrounding Ansu Fati, given he’s the latest academy graduate from La Masia, and his performances this season suggest that the 17-year-old has an incredibly bright future ahead.
The youngster has already played in 19 La Liga matches this season, scoring five goals and setting up one more. Add to that the recent struggles of Antoine Griezmann, Fati’s pace, dribbling and unpredictability make him an asset for Barcelona.
Keep an eye on this young man, he may even end up as Lionel Messi’s replacement.
#4 Joao Felix (Atletico Madrid)
While Barcelona have Ansu Fati, Atletico Madrid have Joao Felix. The Portuguese teenager was signed from Benfica ahead of this season for a huge fee, as Griezmann left for the Camp Nou.
Since then, he’s taken part in 24 games in the league, contributing six goals and a solitary assist.
Playing under a new manager in a rigid system in a foreign league has somewhat limited the 20-year-old’s output. However, he’s certainly a talented player, blessed with incredible pace and vision.
Felix can be a handful when at his best, and Barca’s defence will have to keep a close eye on the youngster to keep him at bay.
#3 Luis Suarez (Barcelona)
The Uruguayan striker bagged both goals against Celta last week, which would have been the only positive for Barcelona from that game.
Without Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi has to carry the Blaugrana all on his own, but now with his strike partner back from injury, the lethal duo can wreak havoc together.
The veteran hitman has already scored 13 times in 22 La Liga appearances this season, and Suarez will certainly fancy his chances on Tuesday night as well. He has also provided eight assists, which highlight just how important ‘El Pistolero’ is for the Cules.
#2 Jan Oblak (Atletico Madrid)
It would be fair to say that Los Rojiblancos will heavily rely on Jan Oblak to inspire them to a win at the Camp Nou. The Slovenian goalkeeper remains important as ever for Atletico Madrid, and he needs to be on his A-game if they are to keep Lionel Messi and company at bay.
The 27-year-old custodian has played in all 32 La Liga games for his side this season, keeping 14 clean sheets. If he can manage another shutout on Tuesday night, then surely Diego Simeone’s men will take a huge step towards Champions League qualification.
#1 Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
It has been three weeks now that Lionel Messi hasn’t found the back of the net in La Liga, but Atletico Madrid would know exactly how dangerous the little magician can be.
Messi has single-handedly won his team various matches against this very opposition over the years, and so, it’s fair to say that all eyes will be on the Argentine maestro to end his goal drought against a side that he has hurt on multiple occasions.
With 21 goals and 17 assists in 27 league games this term, we all know Messi’s value to the Blaugrana; he alone accounts for 52% of the goals that Barcelona have scored this season.
The 33-year-old has the ability to change the course of a game on his own, and we’re expecting him to rise to the occasion once again, now that his team desperately need a win against Atletico.
All stats courtesy: Transfermarkt.co.in