A few weeks ago, Barcelona looked down and out for the season – ousted by Atletico Madrid in the Champions League quarterfinals, defeated by Real Madrid in the Copa Del Rey final and third favourites to retain their La Liga title.
Where to Watch Live
The title decider is set for a 6 pm local time (9.30 pm IST, 5 pm BST, 12 pm ET) start with live coverage on Star Sports 1 and Star Sports HD1 in India. Watch the match via live streaming in India HERE. Viewers in the UK can catch the action on Sky Sports 1 with the option to live stream the match HERE. US and Canada viewers can watch the game via live streaming HERE. Catch the action in Latin America HERE, while viewers in the Middle East and North Africa can do the same HERE.
How quickly things can change, though. After a few weeks which have seen both Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid stumble in the La Liga, Barcelona now have the title in their own hands – beat Atletico at the Camp Nou on Saturday and they will be crowned champions yet again.
They will not start the game as favourites, however, with their opponents on Saturday – Atletico – needing just a draw to clinch their first league crown since 1996. Three points separate Atletico and Barcelona at the moment and only a win will do for the latter to clinch the championship.
It will be a big blow for Atletico, if they fall at the final hurdle, though, with the Madrid club doing exceedingly well this season, showing consistency and drive, to hold off the challenge of both Barca and Real for so long, with just one point now standing between them and what will be a thoroughly deserved title.
"Our aim is to play a good game and take it to where it suits us," said Atletico manager Diego Simeone, who has also guided his team to the final of the Champions League, where Madrid rivals Real await. "We have always kept the same identity," he said. "I do not think this will change for the last game.
"Personality will be important. To have arrived at this point, we have put in a lot of work and effort. It has not been easy, but we are here on merit."
Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid have been tight affairs this season, with the latter extremely adept at keeping a tight ship at the back, while being lethal on the counter. Barca have struggled to penetrate the Atletico wall on several occasions, and they will be scarred by the quarterfinal defeat suffered at the hands of the Madrid club not too long ago.
Barca manager Gerardo Martino believes scoring the first goal will be crucial on Saturday. "Teams that play like Atletico are much more uncomfortable when they have to come from behind than they are when they are winning," he said. "Yes, they did come from behind to beat Chelsea, in the Champions League semifinal second leg, but that hasn't always been the case."
Barcelona have not managed to score first in any of their games against Atletico this season, and Martino insisted the team will not be hampered by past results. "It is not the kind of game where you have to worry about previous meetings," Martino added. "The emotions will be very different to what they were like in the other games."
Team news: Barcelona: Martino received a big boost with Jordi Alba, Gerard Pique and Neymar all back in contention for the league finale. "They might not all be in the best condition, but this is not a case of playing six games in a row," Martino said. "Just one.
"I want to stress how hard they have worked to be here, the effort they have put into it, and the bravery they have shown knowing that the World Cup is just around the corner."
Carles Puyol, who bid an emotional farewell to the club on Thursday, will not feature.
Atletico Madrid: Striker Diego Costa, who missed the 1-1 draw against Malaga, a result which took the league to the final day of the season, will feature, despite the Champions League final looming large.
Expected lineups: Barcelona: Pinto; Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Alba; Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta; Fabregas, Messi, Neymar.
Atletico Madrid: Courtois; Juanfran, Godin, Miranda, Filipe Luis; Koke, Gabi, Tiago, Turan; Garcia, Costa.