La Liga powerhouses Atletico and Barca face-off in Madrid
Altetico de Madrid (4th in La Liga, 45 pts) hosts FC Barcelona (2nd, 51 pts) in La Liga competition this Sunday afternoon.
Barcelona is unbeaten against Diego Simeone's Atletico in the last 13 meetings, going 10-3-0, which is the Catalan's best stretch of play against Madrid in Spain's top division. On Sunday, Atletico Madrid will try to put an end to Luis Enrique's recent success at the Vincente Calderon (5-1-0 in previous six games). This will be the last La Liga match at the Vincente Calderon between the two Spanish clubs.
The last time these two powerhouses met was in Spain's Copa del Rey Semi-final in the first week of February when Barcelona advanced to the final on 3-2 aggregate.
Atletico, winners of their previous three La Liga fixtures, will attempt to get their fourth consecutive win for the first time this season. Madrid are coming off a 4-2 away victory against Bayer Leverkuson in the Champions League Round of 16. Simeone will expect his side to rise to the occasion and earn a positive result to keep their hopes for next year's UCL qualification intact. Real Sociedad are just one point behind Atletico in the five spot while Sevilla is four points ahead of them in third place.
As for Luis Enrique, the Catalonian's are recovering from an unprecedented 4-0 defeat at the Parc des Princes versus Paris St-Germain in the UCL Round of 16. Serving as one of the biggest defeats in recent Barcelona history, Enrique's side will now fight on their last legs for the Spanish crown. Barca is 5-1-0 in the last six league matches.
Argentine international Javier Mascherano is likely to sit on Sunday due to an ankle injury for Barcelona. Atletico center-back Diego Godin returned to training after sitting out of the UCL match in Leverkusen Tuesday night with a muscle injury. He is expected to receive playing time versus Barca.
Barcelona has simply not been Barcelona-esque over the month of February with the peak being the 4-0 loss to PSG. Atletico has slowly returned to form over that same time, even without star defender Diego Godin and keeper Jan Oblak. I believe Barca's lack of confidence and dominance will make it too tall of a task for them to beat a streaking Atletico on the road.
Atletico Madrid 2, Barcelona 1