Atletico Madrid welcome Barcelona to the Vicente Calderon for what will be a crucial clash for the visitors, as they look to stay in the title race and keep the pressure on Real Madrid
Diego Simeone has had to leave out Juanfran, Tiago, Andre Moreira, Alessio Cerci and Augusto Fernandez from this squad to face Barcelona, according to the released squad list on the club’s official site. So other than the absence of first team regular Juanfran, Los Rojiblancos have a full strength squad.
To make up for the absence of Juanfran, Sime Vrsaljko will likely start at right-back while Luis Felipe will start on the left. With Diego Godin’s return, it remains to be seen whether Jose Gimenez or Stefan Savic will have to settle for a place on the bench, or start against the Catalans.
The rest of the team will likely be the same one that started in their 4-2 victory against Bayer Leverkusen. Gabi and Koke will be the center midfield pairing, while Yannick Carrasco and Saul Niguez will be on the left and right flanks respectively, with Griezmann and Gameiro leading the line for the hosts.
As per the squad list released by Barcelona on their official site, the Catalan giants will miss out on the services of the injured Javier Mascherano, Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal, while goalkeeper Jordi Masip has been left out of the squad due to ‘technical reasons.’
Since Mascherano had lost out his starting position at the club to Samuel Umtiti and Arda Turan, Aleix Vidal were never first team regulars, Luis Enrique’s starting XI will still be at full strength but Barcelona may suffer due to the lack of depth in their bench.
Barcelona are expected to start in their usual 4-3-3 formation, with Ter Stegen likely to retain his place in goal after some encouraging words from manager Luis Enrique. “Ter Stegen? The times he has had to intervene he has done so well. I am happy with the output of the goalkeepers.”
Figuring out the correct midfield trio for this tie may pose as a dilemma for Enrique. Iniesta is probably the one player assured of the starting role, while the remaining 2 places will have to be occupied by either Ivan Rakitic, Sergio Busquets or Andre Gomes.
Messi, Neymar and Suarez are irreplaceable as the front 3, while Jordi Alba, Samuel Umtiti, Gerard Pique and Sergi Roberto will likely retain their places in the squad for this tie. Taking Mascherano and Turan’s places on the bench will be Denis Suarez, Mathieu and Rafinha.