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Dec 1, 2019 at 8pm UK
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Preview: Atletico Madrid vs. Barcelona - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Atletico Madrid vs. Barcelona - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Sunday's La Liga clash between Atletico Madrid and Barcelona, including team news and predicted lineups.

One of the most eagerly anticipated fixtures on the La Liga calendar will take place at the Wanda Metropolitano this weekend as Atletico Madrid welcome the champions Barcelona.

Atletico are currently fourth in the table with 25 points to show from their 14 matches, while Barca top the league with 28, with the Catalan giants also boasting a game in hand.

Atletico Madrid

It has been a strange season thus far for Atletico, with Diego Simeone's side very much the draw specialists in Spain's top flight. The capital outfit have shared the points in exactly half of their 14 La Liga outings this season, but no team in Spain's top flight has suffered fewer defeats (1) this term.

Goals have been a real problem for Atletico, finding the back of the net in just 16 of their 14 league matches. They have the joint-best defensive record with just nine conceded, though, and as mentioned, are currently fourth with 25 points to show from their exertions thus far.

Barca are just three points ahead in first position, although the Catalan outfit and Real Madrid both have a game in hand on the rest of the division after El Clasico at Camp Nou was postponed.

In all competitions, Simeone's team have won just one of their last six matches, which came at home to Espanyol in La Liga on November 10. Since then, they have been held to a 1-1 draw by Granada in La Liga before suffering a 1-0 defeat to Juventus in the Champions League on Tuesday night.

It was always going to be tough to pick up a positive result in Turin during the week, but the loss has left Atletico vulnerable ahead of their final group game. Indeed, with Bayer Leverkusen just one point behind in third, there is real pressure on the Spanish outfit leading into their home clash with Lokomotiv Moscow.

Atletico have five more matches in all competitions before the winter break in Spain kicks in; four of those are in La Liga - Barca, Villarreal, Osasuna and Real Betis - in addition to their final Champions League clash.

It remains to be seen whether the club attempt to improve their squad in January, although the fact that so much money was spent over the summer suggests that not too much will be available at the start of 2020.

Atletico also have a rotten recent record against Barca in Spain's top flight considering that they have not triumphed against this weekend's opponents in the league since February 2010.

Recent form: DWDDWD
Recent form (all competitions): DDLWDL


Like Atletico, Barca were also in Champions League action during the week, but it was a much more positive outcome for Ernesto Valverde's side as they booked their spot in the last-16 stage of the competition.

Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann were all on the scoresheet in a 3-1 win over Borussia Dortmund, ensuring that the Spanish champions would be present in the knockout rounds of the tournament once again.

Barca have not been without their problems this season, but the Catalan giants will enter this match off the back of four straight wins in all competitions, including their last two against Celta Vigo and Leganes in the league.

As mentioned, the fact that El Clasico was postponed means that Barca have a game in hand on every side other than Real Madrid, who will travel to Camp Nou for what should be a cracking affair on December 18.

Nine wins, one draw and three defeats - that is how Valverde's side have performed in the league this season. They might top the table at this stage but just five points separates the top six teams in the league, and there is every chance that they would slide down the division with a poor result this weekend.

Much has been made of a perceived poor relationship between Griezmann and Messi, but the pair embraced when the former scored against Dortmund during the week, and it will be a huge match for the France international on Sunday night as he prepares to take on Atletico for the first time since arriving at Camp Nou.

It seems incredible to think that Barca have not lost to Atletico in La Liga since 2010, but the points have been shared in their last two league matches in Madrid. It would not be a surprise to see another draw this weekend as it would suit the visitors, while Simeone's side have been the draw specialists this term.

Barca have already lost three times on their travels this season, though, and there is not question that the home side will be fired up to overcome the reigning champions at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Recent form: WWWLWW
Recent form (all competitions): LDWWWW

Team News

Atletico still have big problems at the back with Stefan Savic, Sime Vrsaljko and Jose Gimenez all out.

The latter has recently returned to training but is unlikely to be considered for this weekend's match, meaning that Mario Hermoso and Felipe should start as the two central defenders once again.

Key midfielders Saul Niguez and Thomas Partey are available after missing out against Granada last weekend through suspension, but Diego Costa is out until at least February following a neck operation.

Joao Felix played for 35 minutes against Juve after overcoming an ankle injury, though, and the Portugal international could now return to the XI with Angel Correa and Alvaro Morata also starting.

As for Barca, the club are yet to provide a firm update on the injury suffered by Ousmane Dembele against Dortmund, but the France international is unlikely to feature this weekend.

As a result, Griezmann should join Messi and Suarez in the final third of the field, while Gerard Pique will return to the back four having missed the Champions League clash through suspension.

Barca still have issues in the full-back positions, though, with Nelson Semedo and Jordi Alba still injured, meaning that Sergi Roberto and Junior Firpo should keep their spots once again.

Further forward, key midfielder Sergio Busquets will miss out through suspension, handing Valverde a selection dilemma in the middle of the park. Arthur should return to join Frenkie de Jong, while Arturo Vidal will hope to edge out Ivan Rakitic to take the final position.

Atletico Madrid possible starting lineup:
Oblak; Trippier, Hermoso, Felipe, Lodi; Correa, Thomas, Saul, Koke; Felix, Morata

Barcelona possible starting lineup:
Ter Stegen; Roberto, Pique, Lenglet, Firpo; Arthur, De Jong, Vidal; Messi, Suarez, Griezmann

Head To Head

The last meeting between the two teams ended in a 2-0 Barca win at Camp Nou in April, but the pair played out a 1-1 draw at the Wanda Metropolitano last season.

As mentioned, not since February 2010 have Atletico beaten their opponents this weekend in La Liga, with the Catalan giants dominating the recent meetings between the two sides.

That said, the last two clashes in Madrid have finished all square, with Barca's last away victory in this fixture coming in February 2017, when Messi scored an 87th-minute winner.

We say: Atletico Madrid 1-1 Barcelona

This game has a draw written all over it. Barca will be the team looking to make things happen, but Atletico are just so difficult to break down, especially at the Wanda Metropolitano. It is difficult to back a home win when taking everything into account, but we fancy Simeone's side to pick up a point.

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