On the one hand, at Barça they say that this game is like a final and that, in the words of their coach, Xavi Hernández, it would be worth six points. And, on the other, Diego Simeone agrees in giving great importance to a fight between direct rivals in that fight for the Champions area.
Atlético de Madrid arrives defending that fiery fourth placewith 36 points for the 35 that FC Barcelona has added in these 21 games. Maximum equality in this sense. Of course, neither one nor the other are where they should be and it is a season that, even if it ends well, will be to forget as far as LaLiga is concerned.
There will be a fight to make effective that maxim of 'win, win and win' that Luis Aragonés made famous in the 'mattress' club. And it is that the victory, as Xavi points out, vGo more than those 3 points because on a moral level, whoever wins the match will come out more than reinforced. In addition, winning entails defending fourth place.
At 'Can Barça' they know that it will be one of those afternoons that could be historic. Firstly, because of the importance of the duel, even if they are not fighting for leadership that seems unattainable for both Barça and Atlético, who will not be able to retain the title. Later, by the return of Luis Suárez. And, in addition, for being able to see the winter signings for the first time.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Adama Traoré could debut as blaugranas -Adama already played in his first stage as a 'culer'- and, in factcould be part of the starting lineup along with Ferran Torres, also arrived in January. You have more Adama numbers, in top form, starting from the start, but 'Auba' is the sought-after and longed-for number 9 and the purest forward without counting Luuk De Jong.
At Atlético de Madrid, 'Cholo' Simeone also has fresh meat with lhe arrivals of Daniel Wass and reinildo, two sides to cover bands that, defensively, were depleted. Fresh air for an Atlético that has just beaten Valencia (3-2) and drawn at Villarreal (2-2).
For its part, Barça forgot the stumble in the Cup -competition in which the rojiblanco team was also eliminated- with a hard-fought and sweaty victory in Mendizorroza against Alavés (0-1). Both come from winning, but not from shining or consolidating their game, so it will be an unpredictable and even 'final', with a brutal clash of styles.
"Back in 2016, I remember Xavi commenting that Atlético de Madrid's football was not for the style of the big teams. Now he will have the possibility, with the arrival of so many footballers, to display everything he is looking for. When one lived only with one situation in his life does not understand other situationsyes When one had the possibility to turn and have different situations in his life, understands that not everything is a single thing", this is how Simeone pronounced in the preview of this duel, in a direct dart to Xavi that the one from Terrassa will have to answer on the green.
Luis Suárez will see his old fans
Despite the fact that last year he already played at the Camp Nou with the Atlético de Madrid shirt, the restrictions meant that the duel was held behind closed doors. This time, Luis Suárez will be received by his old 'culer' fans, in a special duel for the Uruguayan striker that, being one of the best Blaugrana scorers of recent times, should be well received.
More recent is still the path taken from the Camp Nou to the Wanda Metropolitano by Antoine Griezmann. The Frenchman, who in his case returned to the 'colchonero' team, is injured and will not be able to play in the Blaugrana fiefdom, where he did not fully exploit or perform at the highest level seen in the past with Atlético. It will be an important loss for the 'Cholo'.
FC BARCELONA: Ter Stegen; Alves, Hammered, Araujo, Jordi Alba; Busquets, Pedri, F. De Jong; Adama, Ferran Torres and Gavi.
ATHLETIC MADRID: Oblak; Vrsaljko, Savic, Giménez, Hermoso; Carrasco, DePaul, Koke, Lemar; Joao Felix and Luis Suarez.
-REFEREE: Gil Manzano (C. Extremadura).
-HOUR: 16.15/Movistar LaLiga.