The first big game of the La Liga season is here with Barcelona hosting Atletico Madrid at the Camp Nou on Wednesday. Both teams have already suffered setbacks in this early part of the campaign, so ending up on the losing side won't be an option for either.
Barcelona, after opening their season with two wins, suffered a shock loss to newly-promoted Alaves, before getting back on course again last weekend with the thumping of another new top-flight side Leganes.
The Alaves defeat came about when Luis Enrique rested several of his stars, with the likes of Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Luis Suarez not named in the starting lineup. That shows that this Barcelona side becomes seriously diminished when the stars sit out, understandable, considering the quality of the players.
That quality will be essential if Barcelona are to trump the team that dumped them out of the Champions League last season.
"They are the best team at drawing back," Barcelona manager Luis Enrique said of Atletico Madrid. "But they also have quality strikers and great mobility.
"Effectiveness in front of the goal is likely to be one of the key areas. We need to smother their forwards. This is a game between two teams that know each other well, and that makes it all the more exciting."
Another exciting aspect is the difference in styles of the two teams. While Barcelona like to take control of the game through possession, albeit not as much as they used to, Atletico are more than happy to give up the ball for effectiveness and that cut and thrust on the counterattack.
"They are still masters of the counterattack and setpieces," Enrique added. "They're candidates for every trophy, so we'll have to get things right against them. We have to limit our mistakes and stick to our gameplan. No game against Atletico is easy."
While Barcelona have won three and lost one so far this season, Atletico began their La Liga campaign with two draws, before finally finding their rhythm, picking up two wins in their next two matches. Now that they have brushed off that early season rust, Diego Simeone's men will want to continue the momentum with the big scalp of the reigning champions.
"They still play brilliant football," Simeone said of Barcelona. "They have the most decisive players both individually and as a unit, and that puts them in an incredible position. They won everything apart from the Champions League last season.
"(This game), more than in midfield, will be decided in the key areas. They have tremendous strength in attack but if we defend well, then we'll have a chance."
Team news: Summer signing Samuel Umtiti has been ruled out of the La Liga clash with a ligament strain, but apart from that Enrique does not have too many problems. For Atletico, Simeone will miss the services of the injured trio of Alessio Cerci, Miguel Angel Moya, Tiago, while Sime Vrsaljko has not travelled with the squad to Barcelona.
Where to Watch Live
Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid is scheduled for a 10 p.m. local time (1.30 a.m. IST, 9 p.m. BST, 4 p.m. ET) start. Live TV and streaming information is below.
India TV: Sony Six and Sony Six HD. Live Streaming: Sonyliv.
Spain: TV: Canal+ and Movistar.
USA, Australia, Canada, France, Malaysia, Middle East, New Zealand, Singapore and Thailand: TV: Bein Sports. Live Streaming: Bein Sports Connect.