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Atletico Madrid vs Barcelona Preview: Team news, stats and prediction

Two teams fresh off their Champions League quarterfinal qualification will close out this La Liga matchday, when Atletico Madrid host FC Barcelona at the Metropolitano Stadium.

Both teams had to overcome tough Italian opponents in the UCL this past week.

Atletico overcame a one-goal deficit to beat Inter Milan on penalties, while FC Barcelona eliminated Napoli 4-2 on aggregate.

Atletico could use the boost, as things have not been going their way in other competitions, as evidenced by their Copa del Rey elimination and the fact that they have not won two of their last three La Liga outings (1D, 1L).

It was a relegation-threatened Cadiz side that beat them 2-0 in their last league game, leaving Diego Simeone’s men fighting for their place in the top four.

The visit of Barcelona to the Metropolitano Stadium could test Simeone’s tactical nous, as he has lost the last four head-to-head meetings, including the last three by a score of 1-0.

His counterpart Xavi will be desperate to end his time at Barcelona with a victory over Atletico, especially as he could become the first Barcelona coach to win five consecutive La Liga games against Atletico under Simeone.

As for the players, they need look no further than their recent exploits for inspiration, as they have put together a nine-match unbeaten streak in all competitions (6W, 3D).

Key to this success has been stifling the opposition’s attacks, with Barca currently boasting the longest streak of three consecutive clean sheets in La Liga.

Key Battle: A battle between two players facing their former employers.

Atletico striker Antoine Griezmann will be looking to score his seventh career goal against Barcelona, having scored nine of his last 10 at home.

João Félix should be confident after scoring the winner in the reverse fixture, which has seen him score the winning goal in five of his seven appearances as a starter this season.

Hot stat: Barcelona have scored 21 goals after the 75th minute this season, only Liverpool (24) have more in the top five European leagues.

Prediction:

This is a tough game to call, but I think Barcelona will just edge it. They are in better form than Atletico and have a better recent record against them. I predict a 2-1 win for Barcelona.

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