One of the biggest fixtures on the La Liga calendar will take place at Wanda Metropolitano on Sunday night, with Atletico Madrid welcoming Barcelona to the Spanish capital. Atletico are currently fourth in Spain’s top flight, boasting 27 points from their opening 15 games of the season, while Barcelona are top of the table, level on points (38) with second-placed Real Madrid.Atletico have only won eight of their 15 La Liga matches this season, drawing three and losing the other four, with a total of 27 points leaving them in fourth position in the table, 11 points off leaders Barcelona. Diego Simeone’s side will not be in a title race this season, with the team instead focused on making the top four, as they are only two points ahead of fifth-placed Athletic Bilbao and sixth-placed Real Betis.
Atletico recorded a 2-0 win over Elche in the league last time out, with Joao Felix and Alvaro Morata scoring the goals at Wanda Metropolitano, and it was the team’s first success in the league since October 23. The Red and Whites will also enter this match off the back of a win in the Copa del Rey, beating Real Oviedo 2-0 on Wednesday night to advance into the last-16 stage of the competition. The Copa del Rey represents Atletico’s best chance of silverware this season, as a disastrous Champions League group-stage campaign saw them finish bottom of their section, meaning that the team do not have any European football in the second half of the campaign.
Atleti recorded a 2-0 win over Barcelona in the corresponding match last season, but they suffered a 4-2 defeat at Camp Nou in the last game between the two sides last February.Barcelona, meanwhile, were also in Copa del Rey action earlier this week, progressing to the last-16 stage of the competition courtesy of a 4-3 win over Intercity. The Catalan outfit were given a scare by their third-tier opponents, who equalised on three separate occasions to take the match into extra-time, but Ansu Fati won it for Xavi’s side in the 103rd minute. Barcelona were held to a 1-1 draw by Espanyol in the league last weekend, with Joselu cancelling out an opener from Marcos Alonso in a match that produced two red cards. As it stands, Xavi’s side are top of the table, level on points (38) with second-placed Real Madrid, with both sides boasting a record of 12 wins, two draws and one defeat from 15 league games this term.
Barcelona are chasing success in four competitions, as they will also take on Real Betis in the semi-finals of the Spanish Super Cup on January 11 ahead of a potential final against Real Madrid or Valencia. Meanwhile, the La Liga giants will face Manchester United in a two-legged Europa League knockout round playoff next month, with the first leg of the contest set to take place at Camp Nou on February 16.Simeone selected a strong team against Real Oviedo in the Copa del Rey, and it is expected to be a similar XI for this match, albeit with some alterations, with Pablo Barrios and Geoffrey Kondogbia set to start. Savic will also be in the XI if he can prove his fitness over the next 24 hours, with the 31-year-old absent in the Copa del Rey last time out due to a muscular issue.
Felix was not in the squad against Real Oviedo amid the speculation surrounding his future, but the Portugal international is expected to be on the bench here. As for Barcelona, Xavi has no injury concerns ahead of this match, but the visitors will be missing both Robert Lewandowski and Jordi Alba in the Spanish capital through suspension. Ferran Torres could be given the nod through the middle in Lewandowski’s absence, while Xavi has big decisions to make elsewhere, particularly at the back.
Jules Kounde could be asked to play as a right-back, with fit-again Ronald Araujo partnering Andreas Christensen in the middle, while Gavi might be the player to miss out in midfield, with Frenkie de Jong and Sergio Busquets potentially operating alongside Pedri. Raphinha could miss out in the final third of the field, meanwhile, with Fati and Ousmane Dembele potentially getting the nod in the wide areas. Possible Copa del Rey opponents – FC Barcelona The round of 32 now complete, FC Barcelona now knows which teams it could be facing in the last sixteen of the Copa del Rey. When and where to watch Atlético Madrid v FC Barcelona – FC Barcelona LaLiga continues on Sunday with Barça visiting the home of Atlético Madrid (kick off 9.00pm CET). This guide shows what the kickoff time will be in selected countries and regions around the world so you can be sure you can catch the action.
Barcelona looking at Frankfurt defender N’Dicka – SPORT Joan Laporta said on Thursday that Barcelona will not hit the transfer market barring any surprise movement. However, they are working on players for 2023-24. SPORT1 in Germany say that Barca are looking at Evan N’Dicka. Xavi asks Busquets to stay for another year at Barca – SPORT
Barca are planning their new project and Xavi thinks the midfield is an area that needs a look. He understands the difficulties the club are in economically in terms of signings so would like Sergio Busquets to stay for one more season, if the Spaniard accepts a pay cut to do so.