La Liga leaders Barcelona will look to shake off their recent struggles when they host Atletico Madrid in a gigantic clash this Sunday.
The Catalan giants’ momentum has taken a hit after three winless games, starting from the Copa del Rey setback against arch-rivals Real Madrid.
Atletico have been an unstoppable force lately, securing six consecutive wins in La Liga, and are closing in on second-placed Real Madrid.
Concerns have emerged over Barca’s title charge following the back-to-back goalless draws against Girona and Getafe.
Despite the 11-point lead at the top, the Catalan giants can’t afford to be complacent, with Los Blancos hunting them down.
Manager Xavi has come under pressure, with the Spaniard’s tactics questioned for failing to tighten the grip in the title race.
Injuries have played a big part, while confidence is low, especially after the 4-0 loss to Madrid in the Copa del Rey semi-final second leg at Camp Nou.
Robert Lewandowski is going through a rough patch at the moment. He is still the club’s top scorer, highlighting the difference between him and Barca’s other attackers.
Raphinha has been a mixed bag this season, while several other players have failed to live up to expectations.
Barca have been handed a timely boost with the news that Pedri and Frenkie de Jong are available for the Atletico clash after recovering from injuries.
The Catalan giants had the last laugh at Atletico earlier this season, and they will be eager to complete the double.
Atletico will travel to Camp Nou in high spirits following their impressive turnaround in the second half of the season.
Antoine Griezmann has been the key cog behind Los Rojiblancos’ success, with the French forward rediscovering his form and also winning back the hearts of the fans.
Griezmann heads into the game on the back of an excellent performance against Almeria, with his brace helping Los Rojiblancos secure a 2-1 victory. He has bagged 11 goals and nine assists this season.
The 2022 World Cup finalist will be up against his former club on Sunday, and his daunting form could further scupper their title hopes.
Frenkie de Jong and Pedri are expected to make their long-awaited return.
However, Ousmane Dembele, Andreas Christensen and Sergi Roberto will be sidelined, with the latter sustaining a hamstring injury against Getafe and likely to miss the rest of the season.
Atletico will be without former Barca star Memphis Depay, who hasn’t completely recovered from an injury. Marcos Llorente will miss the clash through suspension.
Barcelona potential starting line-up
Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Jules Kounde, Eric Garcia, Ronald Araujo, Alejandro Balde, Sergio Busquets, Frenkie de Jong, Franck Kessie, Gavi, Raphinha, Robert Lewandowski.
Atletico Madrid potential starting line-up
Jan Oblak, Jose Maria Gimenez, Mario Hermoso, Axel Witsel, Nahuel Molina, Yannick Carrasco, Koke, Saul Niguez, Rodrigo De Paul, Angel Correa, Antoine Griezmann.
We Say: Barcelona 2-1 Atletico Madrid
Recent form may favour Atletico, but Barca have a great chance to get the better of their Spanish rivals again, with Lewandowski expected to step up to the occasion.
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