Atlético Madrid vs. Barcelona: Even More To ProveBy: Al | September 18th, 2010
The anti-Madridista classic is back nice and early, smack dabbed in the middle of an Aguero injury crisis and a week after an embarrassing Barcelona league loss to Hercules. While we may be trying to forget about the sad Europa League loss of Thursday to Aris, the fortunes in the league have been quite the opposite and Atletico has won their first two matches and looks to be taking that competition more seriously this year. Both clubs have something to prove: Barca wants to redeem itself after the upset of the season, and Atletico wants to keep on winning matches so that the “inconsistent” monicker wears off. A loss for either side could have very negative consequences for both clubs.
The Atletico that looked to be revitalized and one of the world’s best fell 1-0 to Aris on Thursday in the Europa League. Granted, it was a bit of a watered down squad with some different starters, but nonetheless all the best players eventually made an appearance and still couldn’t beat a 4th placed Greek club. It was actually scary seeing how out-of-form certain players like Diego Costa and Tiago are. However, if Quique Sanchez learned anything from that, it’s that a new method of attacking needs to be implemented.
On the other side of the spectrum, Barca had a fantastic performance against Panathinaikos earlier this week, beating them 5-1 and displaying another example of the beautiful “pom-pom” football that they are known for. The match last weekend, where Barca lost 0-2 to Hercules, can be considered a fluke knowing that every team has a bad match every once in a while, and indeed this is one of the best teams in Europe that we’re talking about. The form of any team may differ between European competition and local league play, but what cannot be denied is that Barca’s main attackers (Messi, Villa, Pedro) are in fine form and more importantly, Carles Puyol is back from injury and should improve the performance of the defense greatly.
What Atletico should be most concerned about is having an attack that can hold its own without Aguero. Aguero may or may not make it to the match, but Quique Sanchez needs to be prepared for the worst-case scenario. Unfortunately, the idiotic sale of Jurado is back to bite us once again knowing that we don’t have a replacement player for him that can fit into a second striker role. Last season, when Atletico beat Barca 2-1, Aguero didn’t even score nor did he do anything too important during the match, so his participation is not an absolute necessity. We still have Forlan, Simao, and Reyes who can easily win the match on their own. The defense needs to be in top shape too, obviously. Godin has been doing great, and aside from that freak goal by Aris, they have done well to stray away from the costly defensive blunders.
Unlike the last time Atletico beat Barcelona back in February, Barca will have a full squad that will be strong in every position once again. When Atletico last beat them, they faced a squad that was missing many key defenders. Atletico won through a counterattack after a bad pass from Xavi (four words I thought I would never say), and a free kick by Simao.
One thing that is (almost) guaranteed during these fixtures is that lots and lots of goals will be scored. Hopefully our defense finally puts on a performance that matches that of Barcelona’s, and the match ends in a comfortable 2-1 just like last time. Forlan is in good form, and Aguero will be considered, and if we have both then Barca will be in for hell. Losing this match will bring Atletico back down from the clouds and will hurt their confidence in La Liga, and winning it will make them feel invincible and put us on the map once again by having beaten Barcelona. If Barcelona loses, the fans will feel like they are in a crisis and will write long and angry blog posts about how Guardiola is an idiot.
Here is Ade’s excellent preview from the Barca perspective. The match is tomorrow at 1PM Eastern/12 Central. Don’t miss this!