Barcelona will play Atletico Madrid in Matchday 33 of La Liga at Camp Nou on Tuesday. Following their disappointing 2-2 draw against Celta on Saturday, the only way to ensure the Catalans don’t fall into a deeper institutional crisis is to add another three points to their domestic league tally.
Atletico Madrid currently sit 3rd in La Liga with 58 points having scored 41 goals and conceded only 23 goals in their 32 matches so far. Diego Simeone’s men have only lost three out of 16 league matches away from the Vicente Calderon this season, which is impressive. In addition, Los Colchoneros have won their last five matches and are still unbeaten after La Liga restarted in mid-June.
As explained in much more detail in our latest The Barcelona Podcast, Barcelona are going through a very rough time at the moment. The team’s results and style of play have not improved significantly since Quique Setien replaced Ernesto Valverde in January, which is disappointing. To add more salt to the wound, it is also clear that the manager’s relationship with his key players is far from fluid.
Here is my suggested The Barcelona Podcast XI for the Blaugranes’ home match against Atletico Madrid:
As I explained in our latest The Barcelona Podcast, Riqui Puig and Ansu Fati were more than good enough against Celta in Vigo and, as a result, deserve to keep their starting spots in Barca’s lineup. To put it bluntly, they are both capable of adding a degree of willingness, freshness and purpose that is miles ahead of most of their teammates at the current time.
Luis Suarez should get the nod over Griezmann and Braithwaite once again. Granted, the 33-year-old is not as physically gifted as he once was, but he is still Barca’s most effective player in front of goal other than Messi, as his brace against Celta proved. Having said that, I would expect Setien to substitute Suarez after 55 minutes so that either Braithwaite (most likely) or Griezmann can bring some fresh legs to the team’s front-line.
Because Vidal is more likely than Rakitic to score from midfield, I would include the Chilean international in my preferred lineup. However, it is clear that playing a game every 72 hours is having an increasingly visible effect on Vidal’s overall fitness. With that in mind, I’d sub Rakitic in around the 60th-minute mark.
Please note that I am not including Arthur as an option at all. Having now closed his transfer to Juventus after being almost pushed out of the club at short notice, I seriously doubt the Brazilian will be mentally ready to risk his health (and future) in the remaining games of Barcelona’s season.
With Real Madrid now two points clear of Barcelona at the top of the La Liga table, every game is a final for the Catalans. Without a doubt, on-form Atletico Madrid are the toughest opponents that Setien’s men will face in the remaining league games this season.
Despite that, I believe that Barca can bounce back at the Camp Nou: I predict a narrow 1-0 win for the Blaugranes on Tuesday.