Diego Simeone's side travel to Barcelona for a do-or-die league fixture at Camp Nou, a venue as which he has never won at Atlético coach.
First-placed Barcelona host second-placed Atlético Madrid at Camp Nou on Saturday evening, where a win for the home side would put them 11 points clear at the top with just seven games remaining.
Valverde’s men almost made a monumental slip-up against Villarreal in the mid-week fixtures. After having taken a 2-0 lead, Barça found themselves 4-2 to down after 80 minutes, but managed to salvage a point thanks to two very late goals from Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez. Barça’s two front men will be confident of adding more goals to their tally tonight against Atlético, who have never one at Camp Nou under Diego Simeone. A win for El Blaugrana will virtually hand them the LaLiga title as they look to achieve an impressive treble this season by securing league, cup and European glory.
But Atlético’s dismal record at Camp Nou under Simeone will only give the Argentine coach’s side more motivation to take all three points. Since their disappointing exit from the Champions League after losing 3-0 to Juventus, Los Rojiblancos have won their three last league encounters without conceding a goal, while scoring eight in the process. Continuing that winning run in tonight’s do-or-die clash at Camp Nou would leave them just five points adrift of Barça and with everything to play for going into the seven remaining league fixtures.
Barcelona team vs Atlético Madrid
Starting XI: Ter Stegen, Alba, Lenglet, Piqué, Arthur, Coutinho, Rakitic, Busquets, Sergi Roberto, Suarez, Messi
Subs: Cillessen, Umtiti, Semedo, Aleñá, Malcom, Murillo, Boateng
Atlético Madrid team vs Barcelona
Starting XI: Oblak, Arias, Giménez, Godín, Felipe Luis, Koke, Thomas, Rodrigo, Saul, Griezmann, Diego Costa
Subs: Adán, Juanfran, Savic, Vitolo, Correa, Kalinic, Morata
Barcelona vs Atlético Madrid: injuries and suspensions
Barcelona will be without Arturo Vidal due to suspension, while Ousmane Dembélé will miss out due to a thigh injury that has kept him out of Barça’s last three league games. Although Dembélé did train with the rest of the group on Friday, Valverde has chosen not to risk rushing him back to action and the Frenchman remains a doubt for the Champions League quarter final tie at Manchester United on Wednesday also.
Diego Simeone, meanwhile, will be without the French duo of Lucas Hernandez and Thomas Lemar through injury.
Barcelona vs Atlético Madrid: what the managers said
Ernesto Valverde: "I want the fans to pay attention to us, not opposition players, supporting us and not looking at them. I don't like when we go to other grounds and get booed, it's like fans give more importance to the opposition than their own side, we want the opposite.”
Diego Simeone: “The fact that we've never won there, that makes me feel very optimistic… if we win tomorrow but don't win the next games, it won't count for anything. We have to try to continually improve, since the Alavés game the team's been growing; against Girona we had a few decent moments and we need to maintain the equilibrium, consistency and the team's identity.”