New year and, new life? That is what many Atlético de Madrid fans ask themselves. Tonight, they take on FC Barcelona at the Cívitas Metropolitano Stadium at 9 pm. An Atlético – Barça is always a ‘parallel clásico’ between two of the most important squads in Spain that will test the current top position by Barça and the improvement that the team coached by Diego Pablo Simeone is aiming to with the start of 2023.
Atlético – Barça, a game that impacts both team’s season:
After a very poor start into the season from Atlético right before the World Cup, as they are kicked out from European championships and most likely out of the race for LaLiga’s title, Simeone’s squad can now only secure their third spot in the weekends and the Spanish Cup during the week.
On the other hand, the team coached by Xavi Hernández, who are also out of the Champions League, but at least with the “consolation” of the Europa League, did better in the first part of the season and, as a result, they are finally candidates to win the title after three years of drought.
LaLiga is the priority and the trophy that will impact Barça’s final grade at the end of the season. But in order to establish their candidacy, they must assault hostile stadiums such as the Metropolitano, which will not be an easy mission.
Simeone’s Atlético are stuck in the usual playing style dilemma between the kind of players they have and the idea of the coach, but they keep holding themselves to winning these kind of games in order to remind that this team, despite of its multiple lacks, competes against anyone, specially in front of their people.
Atlético and Simeone hold on to the availability of their best central defenders (and the return of Reinildo); the return of Llorente to the position from where he lifted LaLiga title; the quality and criteria from Griezmann; the talent from João (Will he stay?); and the rise of a diamond from the academy, Pablo Barrios, who will potentially start the game protected by captain Koke.
Barça head to this game without two of their key pieces, Jordi Alba and Robert Lewandowski, who are both suspended, and with doubts brought up from their two most recent and questionable performances against Espanyol and Intercity.
The Metropolitano will roar and Atlético are aware of the fact that they are ahead of a huge opportunity to meet again with their essence, establish themselves in the Champions League and tight up the battle for the title that they ruled themselves out of of just for focusing extremely on the World Cup.
That can’t be fixed anymore, but certainly they can change the course starting tonight against a Barça that can lead the table all by themselves in case they pick up any point. Atlético – Barça, huge game ahead of us.
Main image: Edit by José Manuel Calviño.