Atletico Madrid vs. Barcelona: Team News, Preview, Live Stream, TV Info

Tom SunderlandFeatured ColumnistOctober 13, 2017

MADRID, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 26: Ivan Rakitic (c) of FC Barcelona in action during their La Liga match between Atletico de Madrid and FC Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium on 26 February 2017 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Power Sport Images/Getty Images)
Power Sport Images/Getty Images

Barcelona will look to seal their eighth successive league win of the campaign and maintain their 100 per cent record at La Liga's summit when they travel to face Atletico Madrid on Saturday.

The clash will be the first to take place between these two sides at Atleti's new venue, the Wanda Metropolitano stadium, and the hosts can climb to within three points of the Blaugrana with a Week 8 win.

Barca were 2-1 winners the last time they travelled to Spain's capital to face Atletico in February, and new manager Ernesto Valverde will be eager to set a precedent as he goes up against the Madrid giants for the first time as Blaugrana boss. 

The international break and the end of 2018 World Cup qualification's group stage took attention off La Liga for a time, but some of the globe's greatest stars return to Spain's top flight in time for Saturday's encounter.

Read on for a breakdown of all the latest team news relating to Saturday's late kick-off, complete with a match preview of the encounter.

           

Date: Saturday, October 14

Time: 7:45 p.m. BST/2:45 p.m. ET

Venue: Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid

Live Stream: Sky Go app (UK), beIN Sports Connect (U.S.), fuboTV (U.S.)

TV Info: Sky Sports Football (UK), beIN Sports 3 (U.S.)

           

Team News

Atletico Madrid will need their squad at full strength if they're to stop Barca's rampage through La Liga's ranks, and thankfully for manager Diego Simeone, the hosts have no new concerns ahead of Saturday's encounter.

Full-back Sime Vrsaljko was forced off due to a hamstring complaint in Croatia's recent 2-0 win over Ukraine, but he informed reporters after the match his blow was a minor one, per Football Espana:

“This isn’t a bad injury. I felt a discomfort in my hamstring and thought it was a better idea to come off so that a player who was fresh and totally fit could take my place.

“It was such an important match for us and I maybe could not sprint properly, so it was the correct decision.”

Defenders Lucas Hernandez and Filipe Luis have both been sidelined for around a fortnight with muscle and hamstring injuries, respectively, per Transfermarkt, while Augusto Fernandez is yet to play a minute of the campaign.

The guests, meanwhile, are hoping to see Andres Iniesta return from injury after missing Spain's recent World Cup qualifiers due to injury, and the club recently posted a video to show their veteran on the road to recovery:

Valverde will hope to see Iniesta back to full fitness after he came on as a substitute in the recent 3-0 win over Las Palmas, only to be hauled off again near the match's climax due to his injury.

Arda Turan is the only other doubt for Barca, while Rafinha Alcantara and summer signing Ousmane Dembele continue their fights to come back from more long-term absences.

         

Preview

If Atletico are to mount any sort of challenge on the 2017-18 league crown, then stopping fellow contenders like Barcelona when they get chances like this—they'll only have two of them directly—is a vital step.

However, Barca are likely to feel refreshed after the international break, and passions will still be running high after Catalonia's independence referendum meant the 3-0 win over Las Palmas was played behind closed doors.

The Blaugrana emerged as confident winners despite having to play in front of an empty Camp Nou stadium, and Valverde discussed what that was like, via Goal:

A roaring Wanda Metropolitano stadium is assured to give the visitors a much more hostile welcome on Saturday, and Atleti will be desperate to notch a win over their esteemed peers at the first meeting played there.

The away team will be relying largely on themselves for moral support, too, after F.J. Diaz of Spanish daily AS reported a "logistical error" meant Atletico wouldn't be giving Barca any away tickets, via the BBC's Zora Suleman:

Barcelona's task of beating Simeone's side on their own turf was already going to be difficult as it is, but the prospect of doing so without any semblance of a travelling support is a more daunting task.

Atleti can slow La Liga's leaders early on if they clinch a result on Saturday, but failure to do so could see Valverde's men spring as far as eight points clear at the summit after only eight matches.