Atlético Madrid return from the international break with a Sunday afternoon game against FC Barcelona.
Fourth-place Atlético (10-6-5, 36 points) entered the break with a rousing comeback win over Valencia, and the club completed two transfers during the January window. Diego Simeone hopes the Rojiblancos are set to turn the corner at last and enjoy a strong second half of the season.
“Sunday is an important game, against a rival that competes for our same objectives,” Simeone said on Saturday. “It will be a nice game to watch.”
Xavi Hernández’s fifth-place Barcelona (9-8-4, 35 points) can leapfrog Atlético with a victory in this game. The blaugrana are winless in their past five encounters with Atleti dating back over two calendar years. However, Simeone’s men have never won at Camp Nou during his managerial tenure, and the last manager to lead the Rojiblancos to a league win there remains Pepe Murcia in 2006.
“We haven’t been lucky enough to win at Barça yet,” Simeone said. “They are stats, and stats are there to be broken. Barça are a great club, with great players and a coach who knows his home. He will bring to the team a style that has always defined Barça.
“In 2016, Xavi said that Atlético’s style was not the style that big teams play. Now he will be able to show what he’s looking for, what he wants, what he imagines, and what he has been building.”
Simeone indicated that new acquisitions Reinildo Mandava and Daniel Wass could have opportunities out of the chute on Sunday, while Cholo also confirmed João Félix will start. The team’s medical staff has learned its lesson and will not rush back any of the presently-injured Colchoneros — Antoine Griezmann, Geoffrey Kondogbia, and Marcos Llorente were all left out of the matchday squad.
“It’s a great moment for words to become actions, and tomorrow João has the chance to prove it,” Simeone said. “He has trained very well, he is excited, he wants to prove it. Tomorrow he will surely have a great game, which is what we all want.”
Date Feb. 6, 2022
Location Camp Nou, Barcelona
Kickoff time 4:15 p.m. CET, 3:15 p.m. GMT, 10:15 a.m. EST, 7:15 a.m. PST
SB Nation opposition blog Barça Blaugranes