06/30/2020 - 13:31
With Lionel Messi playing his sixth game in 17 days, Barcelona receives Atlético de Madrid from Diego Simeone , in a tough obstacle that is presented to the Catalan team in the title fight, in which it is at a disadvantage due to the distance it Real Madrid took the top of the League of Spain but also for its low level and for the versions of crisis that appeared between the squad and the coaching staff.
The culé team comes to this meeting crossed by several conflicts: to the criticism of the leadership for the sale of Arthur to Juventus, in recent weeks the divorce between the team and Quique Setién was also added , who they reproach the lack of a game identity, the changes during the match and the reactions of his aide-de-camp, who, according to local media, would have argued with several team leaders,
Atlético de Madrid, on the other hand, is one of the best performing teams in the Spanish League since the resumption of competition after having overcome the worst stage of the coronavirus pandemic, since it not only remains undefeated but also lost only two points out of the 15 he played, with four wins and a draw . With that sprint, he established himself in third place in the standings and in the ranking positions for the next Champions League.
Lionel Messi will have a new opportunity to reach his official goal number 70 0 right in front of one of the teams that has made him the most: Atlético suffered 31 goals from the Argentine in the 40 games they played . The last one was not in the best context for Barcelona: it occurred in the defeat 3 to 2 of the semifinals of the Spanish Super Cup, on January 9, which also led to the removal of coach Ernesto Valverde.
Lionel Messi gestures against Celta de Vigo and facing Iago Aspas, the executioner of Barcelona in Vigo. (AP)
But La Pulga is going through a surprising scoring drought, with 291 unconverted minutes , since he scored his last goal against Leganés, a penalty, with which he reached 699 conquests (729 at Barça and 70 in the Argentine National Team).
Since then, he could not contribute goals against Seville (0 to 0), Athletic de Bilbao (1 to 0, both Iván Rakitic) and Celta de Vigo (2 to 2, double of Luis Suárez).
Messi is one of the two players who have played all five games and all the minutes so far, without having been replaced, in Barcelona since the restart, along with goalkeeper Marc-André Ter Stegen . The rest entered into the dynamic of rotation arranged by coach Quique Setién, who used 20 footballers in that period.
Precisely the four points he left on the road as a visitor in Seville and Vigo brought Barcelona down from the top of the League, since Real Madrid won all five games and is now two units above the Catalan team .
The decline in Barcelona's performance also triggered versions of a breakdown between the squad and the coaching staff , which Quique Setién himself came out to downplay, especially an episode, portrayed by television cameras, in which he was seen Messi ignoring an indication that the coach's aide, Eder Sarabia.
Messi hugs Luis Suárez in one of the goals in Vigo. (Reuters)
"Nothing happened. An indication and that's it. I don't know what you want me to tell you. It is true that there are always controversies. Just like in life, everyone has their own way of seeing things and thinking, it is normal that there are differences sometimes in the decisions we make. I was not an easy player either, because you have your vision of things, "he said at a press conference.
The tension was also reflected in the statements of Luis Suárez after the draw in Balaídos, who said that "there is something for the coaches" when reflecting on what Barcelona should improve so as not to lose points, as happened in Seville and Vigo.
🔊 "Atlético are a very solid team defensively" # BarçaAtleti pic.twitter.com/p0zwgH7Z3K- FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona_es) June 29, 2020
The truth is that versions have even appeared of a possible replacement for Setién as soon as the season ends, and the name that underlies is that of Xavi Hernández , one of the emblems of Barcelona in the golden stage with Pep Guardiola as coach.
G⚽L OF THE DAY!
🚀 Xavi 🚀 pic.twitter.com/k4GAUp0Nii
To make matters worse, Barça is presented with one of the worst rivals, such as Atlético de Madrid , who on return to competition has a performance only surpassed by the full Real Madrid team.
The Cholo Simeone team got 13 of the 15 points they disputed since the return, they have had four consecutive wins and, also taking advantage of the drops in Real Sociedad and Getafe, they settled comfortably in the third position , away from the title fight (nine points less than Barcelona) but also with a light of seven units on Villarreal, today the first team that is out of the classification zone for the next Champions.
A rarity: seeing Diego Simeone sitting on the bench, and not standing ordering his team. (AFP)
Of course, Barcelona is not a pleasant rival for Atlético or Simeone, and even less in the Camp Nou, where although he has the memory of having won the 2013-14 league title with a 1 to 1 draw on the last date (goal Diego Godín's head), Cholo could never win his visits to Catalonia. And for the League, the Argentine coach could never beat Barça either, at home or as a visitor .
To receive the rojiblanco team, Setién recovers midfielder Sergio Busquets, who was unable to play against Celta due to suspension, and defender Sergi Roberto, who has missed the last three commitments of his team due to an intercostal fissure. Both could be starters to the detriment of Riqui Puig and Nelson Semedo, respectively.
📩 Atlético, @Simeone has a message for you:
🔴⚪ # AúpaAtleti pic.twitter.com/9aRF6Hhxg5
Striker Antoine Griezmann could also return to eleven, which would relegate Ansu Fati to the bench again, and Clément Lenglet will relieve Samuel Umtiti, who in Vigo returned to star in a most discreet game. The rest of the team will be the usual one.
At Atlético, Diego Simeone has insisted on these five days in the rotations. In Barcelona there will be changes. There are two bound by sanction. Neither Koke Resurrección, the captain, nor Stefan Savic are available due to the accumulation of five yellow cards. Neither did Mario Hermoso, injured, apart from Sime Vrsaljko. The two absences in the center of the defense will return Felipe Monteiro to ownership, according to forecasts.
Diego Costa and Marcos Llorente will also return, in an attack circuit that will have the Portuguese Joao Félix as the sharpest weapon to cut the rival defense.
Barcelona : Marc-Andre Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Gerard Piqué, Clément Lenglet, Jordi Alba; Sergio Busquets, Iván Rakitic, Arturo Vidal; Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann and Luis Suárez. DT : Quique Setién.
Atlético de Madrid : Jan Oblak; Santiago Arias, Felipe, José María Giménez, Renán Lodi; Marco Llorente, Thomas Partey, Héctor Herrera, Saúl Ñíguez; Joao Félix and Diego Costa. DT : Diego Simeone.
Time : 17 hours (from Argentina).
TV : ESPN 2.
Referee : Alejandro Hernández Hernández.
Stadium : Camp Nou