MADRID, May 7 (Xinhua) — FC Barcelona entertain Atletico Madrid in what could be a decisive game in the race for the La Liga title on Saturday afternoon.
Atletico travel to the Camp Nou Stadium with a two-point lead over Barca and second-place Real Madrid, and three points would see them move five points clear of Barca with just two games to play and put the pressure on Real Madrid, who entertain fourth-place Sevilla on Sunday night.
A Barca win, on the other hand, would see them leapfrog Atletico and perhaps deliver a hammer blow to the hopes of Diego Simeone’s side, but at the same time, it would open the door for Real Madrid, who would go top due to their superior head to head goal difference if they could then beat Sevilla.
Barca go into the game without long term absentees, Ansu Fati and Philippe Coutinho and a doubt over Martin Braithwaite, who is recovering from a twisted ankle and coach Ronald Koeman looks likely to repeat his policy of playing three central defenders to allow full-backs Sergino Dest and Jordi Alba to use the full width of the pitch – which will be important against a packed Atletico midfield and defense.
“The important thing is to be true to ourselves. In some games Atletico have pressured higher than usual, we have to be prepared,” said Koeman.
“Everyone will look for their qualities to work and we know that Barca has always been an attacking team, but there are other ways of winning,” added the Barca coach.
Sergio Busquets, Frenkie de Jong and Pedri will play in midfield with Leo Messi and Antoine Griezmann leading the attack, and Ousmane Dembele is ready to add pace from the bench.
The game will mean an emotional return to the Camp Nou for former Barca striker Luis Suarez, who returns to face the club he left last season.
Elsewhere, the only doubt for coach Simeone is whether or not central defender Jose Gimenez will be fit to start. Simeone looks likely to edge towards caution with holding midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia likely to start with Joao Felix on the bench.
Atletico have not looked convincing in recent games and needed Elche to miss a last-minute penalty to claim all three points last weekend, but players such as Thomas Lemar, Yannick Carrasco and Marcos Llorente can cause Barca problems on the break. Enditem