This midweek, we’ve the exciting prospect of a flagship La Liga fixture. On Wednesday night, Barcelona play host to Atletico Madrid. In recent years this has been a fixture to remember, with Los Colchoneros playing bogeyman to the Catalan giants. However, this time, we don’t expect quite the same chance of fireworks.
Atleti, fresh from a 5-0 win at home to struggling Real Sporting, look to be recovering from a poor start to the season. Successive draws already left the club looking at the top of the table in jealousy, so the return to form is a much-needed requirement for the club if they wish to continue development accordingly.
A Crossroads Awaits
The fact that manager Diego Simeone has decided to reduce his contract until 2018 has created unnecessary friction in the club, too. On the run-up to a game that could help to define the seasons ambitions, Simeone has put an interesting lilt on Atletico at this moment in time. Fans, then, are rightly nervous that the man who has inspired their rebirth as a superpower may be losing the will to stick around.
Add in the massive uncertainty around his former love, Internazionale in Italy, and it’s easy to see why people are nervous. Inter are the proud owners of a squad that looks an exceptional fit for Cholo in many ways, and have the backing of the Suning Group in China for finance. As such, they probably hold the best long-term chance for Cholo to consistently compete at the top.
Atletico Madrid are a big club, but Inter are one of the worlds true giants, and always have been. Could this game, then, play at least a minor role in helping to make the decision to stick around in the long-term?
A Defining Match?
If it helps to shape the remainder of the season for Atletico, then that might be the case. Barcelona, then, are the worst team you could play away from home when you are just about to try and establish your long-term goals for the season judging on your performance against them.
Fresh off a 5-1 away win at Leganes, Barcelona are a side to be feared. They trounced Glasgow Celtic 7-0 midweek in the Champions League, so come into this game in pretty scary form. They bring the wealth of goal scoring from across the team into a game in which it will be needed. After all, few teams are as resolute and effective as Atletico.
This, then, will play a huge part in helping the club to finally start taking the right approach to their seasons. If Barcelona win they put a title challenger, one of just three, into a majorly challenging position before the season has even got truly started. An Atletico win, though, would empower their entire campaign; it would be the lift they (and perhaps Simeone) need.
That being said, we expect that will be a close Barcelona win. They simply look to effervescent in front of goal to let this opportunity pass them by.