Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid
Estadio Olimpico forms the backdrop for a handsomely-looking La Liga showdown between Barcelona and Atletico Madrid.
Barcelona staged an impressive comeback in midweek Champions League action to beat Porto 2-1 at home and secure progression into the knockout stages with a game to spare. After guiding the ‘Blaugrana’ to their first Champions League last-16 in three years, manager Xavi Hernandez is looking to get them back to winning ways in La Liga following a gut-wrenching 1-1 draw at Rayo Vallecano last weekend. That result knocked the reigning champions down from a two-game winning league run, leaving them four points adrift of table-topping Real Madrid at the start of this round. However, Barcelona can draw confidence from a formidable record at their temporary home, having won six out of seven top-flight outings at Estadio Olimpico this season (L1), barring a 2-1 El Clasico defeat to Real Madrid.
If there’s a side capable of following in Real Madrid’s footsteps, it’s Atletico Madrid. Diego Simeone’s high-flying team takes this trip amid a four-game winning streak in all competitions, bookended by a 3-1 battering of Feyenoord in midweek Champions League action. Despite sitting level on points with Barcelona ahead of the kick-off, ‘Los Colchoneros’ should approach this game with cautious optimism as they slumped to a shocking 2-1 defeat to Las Palmas on their last La Liga travel, not to mention they’re without a top-flight win in Catalonia since 2006. Since that success, they’ve gone winless in 23 consecutive away H2Hs against Barcelona (D8, L15). But this fixture won’t take place at Camp Nou (like those 23), handing Atletico a glimmer of hope that they could arrest a three-game losing H2H run.