Atletico Madrid will face Barcelona at the Wanda Metropolitano in the Spanish La Liga this weekend. The two teams are coming off a round of Champions League action in which Spanish teams did not fare well, but this will be a very different encounter. After losing 1-0 to Alaves in their last league game, hosts Atletico Madrid slid to fourth in La Liga with 14 points, while Barcelona ascended to sixth with 12 points after a 3-0 win against Levante.
Atletico have struggled offensively in recent games, having failed to score in three of their past five, but they come into this game fresh off a thrilling Champions League comeback against AC Milan. Their recent encounters have not been without controversy; four of their previous five matches have resulted in red cards, with Joao Felix receiving one of them.
Atletico Madrid has scored four goals in their last three games, three of which have come from former Barcelona striker Luis Suarez. He'll be hoping to continue in this vein during the game. In the nine games thus far this season, his club has only kept three clean sheets, with both teams scoring in five of them. For the most part, Atletico has been a second-half squad this season; nine of their 11 goals have come in the second half.
Atletico has gone undefeated in 11 games at home in all competitions and has only lost once in 33 league games. They've also gone undefeated in their last three games with Barcelona, and they appear capable of continuing their winning streak.
Barcelona are going through a difficult period, having just suffered yet another huge defeat, this time against Benfica in the Champions League. They have now failed to score in three of their previous five games, while conceding three goals in two of them. With only two clean sheets in eight games this season, the Catalans have struggled defensively. The shambolic nature of their defending was exposed against Benfica, and while they are still undefeated in La Liga, it is only a matter of time before they are beaten.
Barcelona is going through some difficult times right now. They've won four of their previous ten league games and are without a number of key players, while manager Ronald Koeman is under enormous pressure. They haven't won any of their three away games so far, scoring only one goal and losing two. The Catalan team will need to get in shape quickly, as they will face Valencia and Real Madrid in La Liga back-to-back following the international break. Between the two games, they'll play Dinamo Kiev in the Champions League, which they'll be expected to win comfortably.
In comparison to Barcelona, Atletico Madrid will be under less pressure for this match, and they have a much superior home record than Barcelona. The difference in experience between these two teams is significant, and this has been Barcelona's primary issue, with several senior players injured. In recent matches against Barcelona, Atletico has performed well, and based on the two teams' recent performances, I will back Atletico to win.
Kickoff Time: The game will go down tomorrow at 8PM Nigerian time.
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