Atletico Madrid vs Barcelona A must-win game for Barcelona
Atletico Madrid don’t give up. That never-say-die attitude is instilled in them by their leader, Diego Simeone.
It has helped them reach the greatest heights of their recent history of late, challenging and winning trophies in Spain and Europe.
Barcelona face them this weekend from a position of being obliged to win if they are to avoid another sporting crisis. If they pick up three points in the Spanish capital, they’ll be back in the fight for the LaLiga Santander title, while a defeat would open up a gap that, even at this early stage, would be hard to overturn.
Barcelona have no choice. They have to win. Three points would remove a lot of the doubts surrounding Ronald Koeman’s side; their recent slip would seem like no more than a slump and, most importantly, it wouldn’t allow Atletico nor Real Sociedad to pull too far away from them.
A defeat would see crisis talk return. They can’t afford another setback, even less so against direct competitors Atleti. Los Rojiblancos could go nine points ahead of the Catalans with a win, while La Real could end the day 12 ahead of them, although with two more matches played.
The last time Atletico had such an advantage over Barcelona was in 1996, but it would also mean Simeone ending a personal curse against the Catalans, having not beaten them in LaLiga Santander in his time at Atleti.
On January 28, 1996, Atletico had 55 points to Barcelona’s 46, which saw the end of Johan Cruyff’s time at the club. That gap rose to 11 the following day, with Atleti winning and Barcelona drawing at Vallecas. That year, Radomir Antic’s side would go on to win the title.
Barcelona know how difficult it would be to overturn a gap like that. Koeman will be desperate to avoid defeat.