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Atletico Madrid vs. Barcelona: Complete Preview, Start Time and More

BARCELONA, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 24:  David Villa of FC Barcelona (2ndR) celebrates with his teammate Lionel Messi (L) after scoring his first team's goal during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and Club Atletico de Madrid at Camp Nou on September 24, 2011 in Barcelona, Spain. barcelona won 5-0 and Messi scored his second hat-trick this season.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
David Ramos/Getty Images
Josh MartinFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 23, 2017

It's not quite El Clasico, but Sunday's tilt between Atletico Madrid and Barcelona should be a fun affair nonetheless. 

Atleti currently sit sixth in La Liga after drawing with Sporting Gijon, though, they've enjoyed success in the UEFA Europa League of late, taking both legs of their matchup with Lazio. The Blaugrana, meanwhile, are hoping to close the 10-point gap between themselves and arch rival Real Madrid just a week removed from a 5-1 fricassee of third-place Valencia.

Barca enjoyed a similarly striking 5-0 result against Atleti when these two sides met back in September, a match in which Lionel Messi took home a treble of his own.

 

Where: Estadio Vicente Calderon, Madrid, Spain

When: Sunday, February 26th at 3:30 p.m. EST

Watch: Gol TV, SuperSport 10, SuperSport 3 Africa, Sport TV4, Sky Sports 1/HD, Canal+ Fotball, Alsat M, Arena Sport 3 Serbia, Sport 5 Israel, Sky Sport 3 Italia, Sky Calcio 4, Sport 1 Hungary, GolTV Canada, ESPN2 Australia, NTV+ Football 1

 

Player to Watch for Atletico Madrid: Radamel Falcao

BARCELONA, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 24:  Falcao Garcia of Club Atletico de Madrid de Madrid looks on during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and Club Atletico de Madrid at Camp Nou on September 24, 2011 in Barcelona, Spain. barcelona won 5-0 and Messi scor
David Ramos/Getty Images

Radamel Falcao has been sensational since joining Atletico Madrid for a club-record €40 million over the summer. The 26-year-old Colombian striker, formerly of River Plate and Porto, leads Atleti and is tied for third in La Liga with 14 goals.

El Tigre will have to make the most of what few opportunities he's going to have against Barca given what's likely to be yet another chasmic disparity in time of possession. 


Player to Watch for Barcelona: Lionel Messi

BARCELONA, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 19:  Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona celebrates after scoring his team's second goal during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and Valencia CF at Camp Nou stadium on February 19, 2012 in Barcelona, Spain. FC Barcelona won 5-1.
David Ramos/Getty Images

Funny thing about Falcao: His 14 goals are just over half as many as Lionel Messi's 27 La Liga scores.

Oh, and Leo has eight assists this season.

Oh, and there's no Spanish team against which Messi has had more success, with 17 goals in 13 matches against Atleti.

In other words, expect at least one or two magisterial musings from Ray Hudson on Sunday, sprinkled between the numerous occasions on which he soils himself in celebration of King Leo.

 

Key Matchup: Barca vs. Barca

The Blaugrana are too good and too talented to let another easily winnable match go by the wayside. What's more, at 10 points behind Madrid in the table, Barca's margin for error stands somewhere between slim and none, creating a sense of urgency that should serve as more than enough motivation for them to steamroll Atleti a second time this season.

 

What They're Saying

BARCELONA, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 04:  Head coach Josep Guardiola of FC Barcelona looks on prior to the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and Real Sociedad de Futbol at Camp Nou on February 4, 2012 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
David Ramos/Getty Images

Barca's current pursuit of treble may be the last for Pep Guardiola at Camp Nou. The Blaugrana boss has scooped up 13 trophies since taking over for Frank Rijkaard in 2008 but, in the final year of his contract, has yet to commit to future plans of any sort just yet.

Johan Cruyff, a Barcelona legend as both player and manager, doesn't think Guardiola will leave the club high and dry before notifying the club of his plans, telling EFE:

Guardiola played for Barcelona and is now coach. He's a real club man and will not leave them in a lurch. He will not wait two months before announcing his decision. If he did not have any doubts about his future, he would already have made a decision.

 

Prediction: Barcelona 5, Atletico Madrid 1

Five goals seems like a solid number for Barca to score this time, don't you think? Perhaps a pair of goals for Messi, along with solid contributions from Cesc Fabregas and Alexis Sanchez.

And let's say Atleti gets one goal, if for no other reason than the fact that they're playing on their own pitch this time.

 

 

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