A top-of-the-table clash with the result potentially having a big impact on who will eventually go on and take the La Liga title – Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid at the Camp Nou on Saturday is as important as they come in the Spanish League this season.
The two teams are currently locked on 48 points each, with Barcelona having the upper hand having played a match less. That advantage though will be nullified if Diego Simeone's men manage to come away from the Camp Nou with all three points.
Of course, wanting the three points against Barcelona and getting it are two completely different matters, but Atletico Madrid certainly have the defensive discipline to be able to do just that, considering they have the best defensive record in Europe, having conceded just eight goals in 21 La Liga games. It is just a matter of how quiet they can keep that scary attacking trio of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar.
"Their three forwards have a really high level, that means our concentration and attention must be very high for the 90 minutes," Simeone was quoted as saying by ESPN FC. "The arrival of Suarez has strengthened the whole system.
"Barca are the best team in the world. It is marvellous that there is no envy among the three, they are happy, healthy people, there is usually jealousies, egos, but there it is just the opposite."
With Atletico suffering a surprise exit from the Copa Del Rey in midweek, when they went down to Celta Vigo in the quarterfinals by conceding three goals, Barcelona will want to take advantage of any weaknesses that might be there. And if there is any weakness to exploit, there is no better forwardline than Barca's to do that.
"Before a game of this magnitude, I don't think it makes any difference who qualified or not in the cup," Barcelona manager Luis Enrique told reporters when asked if Atletico's loss to Celta would have any bearing on this game.
Barcelona have not suffered a defeat against Atletico under Enrique, with the champions picking up a 2-1 win in September, when Messi came off the bench to score the winner. The Barcelona manager, who insisted Neymar will start despite carrying a slight knock, though, does not think past results will matter much.
"Atletico are a tough team and we'll need to forget about whatever results we have had against them in the past," the Spaniard added. "We'll have to play a complete game from the first to the 95th minute."
Where to Watch Live
Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid is scheduled for a 4 pm CET (8.30 pm IST, 3 pm GMT, 10 am ET) start, with live TV coverage in India on Sony ESPN and Sony ESPN HD. Viewers in India can also watch the match via live streaming online on Sony Liv.
Audience in Spain can catch the match live on Canal+ Liga and Movistar Futbol, while there will be no live coverage of the match in the UK.
Bein Sports and Bein Sports Connect will broadcast the La Liga match between Barcelona and Atletico Madrid live in Australia, USA, Canada, the Middle East and North Africa.