Match preview: Atlético vs. Barcelona

Vibrant atmosphere expected as red and whites host Barça in cup semi-final

Griezmann will have a major part to play on Wednesday

Griezmann will have a major part to play on Wednesday

When Real Madrid was eliminated by Celta Vigo in last week’s Copa del Rey tie, both Atlético Madrid and Barcelona fans rejoiced as their chances of winning the competition increased significantly.

Now they play each other for a place in the final, with the first leg taking place at the Vicente Calderón on Wednesday evening.

Kick-off in the Spanish capital is set for 21:00 CET.

The La Liga-leading Blancos were vanquished by Eduardo Berrizo’s men at Balaídos last Thursday. We can thank Daniel Wass for scoring late and Danilo for contributing with an own-goal (sorry, Danilo.)

As a result, the stage is set, a familiar one at that, for two Spanish behemoths to clash yet again in the semi-final of the Kings Cup.

They can clash, scrap, and score goals in peace at the Vicente Calderon on Wednesday knowing that CR7 and co. are out of the competition.

The two-legged affair will feature two outfits that experienced disappointing results this past weekend. Barcelona drew 1-1 to Real Betis while Atlético couldn’t muster a goal in their 0-0 draw against Deportivo Alaves. Atleti dug in and stayed compact for long stretches of the match, yet they struggled to limit Alaves’ shots:

To make matters worse, centre-back Jose Gimenez suffered a thigh injury and will miss the match against the Catalan giants. The Uruguayan was coming back into form and it looked as though Simeone was starting to favor him over Stefan Savic, so this could be a blow to Atleti’s strength at the back.

Barça, on the other hand, will likely be without their go-to playmaker, Andres Iniesta, and vital pivot, Sergio Busquets. Their midfield corps looked lost at the weekend, and the club was saved from a loss when Luis Suarez equalized in the 90th minute.

On the bright side, Rafinha has returned to training and could be in the starting XI on Wednesday.

While the recent domestic results of both sides are likely upsetting to both Diego Simeone and Luis Enrique, it is the red and white side of Madrid that is relying heavily on their rojiblanco players to come away with a win at home, for their La Liga aspirations look grim.

Atleti currently sit in fourth place and are 10 points off their Madrid rivals in first. Furthermore, Real Sociedad and Villarreal are hot on their tails; securing Champions League football next season is far from guaranteed.

Simeone knows this, and he also knew that going far in the Copa del Rey means that you’re likely to meet Barcelona, per ESPN FC:

“Being at the semi-final stage, it’s completely normal that big teams get there. From our own experiences in LaLiga, the Champions League, and the Copa del Rey, we know that in order to be champions you have to go through Real Madrid and Barcelona which are two of the best teams in the world.”

He went further, adding that he’s “absolutely proud” of his players for being in a semi-final for the sixth time:

Recent Form

Atlético Madrid (all competitions) – W-W-D-D-D (furthest right the most recent)

Barcelona (all competitions) – W-W-W-W-D (furthest right the most recent)

Quick-Hit Facts

  • Barça have only won two of their last five away games in all competitions
  • Barça is looking to go to their third Copa del Rey final in a row, and retain the title for a third year in succession.
  • The last time these two met, the game finished as a 1-1 La Liga draw at the Camp Nou in September.
  • The last time Barcelona came to the Vicente Calderon, they were eliminated from the Champions League with a 2-0 loss, 3-2 aggregate score.
  • Barcelona has won three out of the last five games against Atlético Madrid across all competitions.

Atlético match selection
: Moyá, Moreira
Defenders: Godín, Filipe, Savic, Vrsaljko, Lucas, Juanfran
Midfielders: Koke, Saúl, Gabi, Carrasco, Gaitán, Keidi
Forwards: Griezmann, Torres, Correa, Gameiro

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  • Dude


  • iamfaried

    I think Simeone will field a 4231 formation:

    Juanfran Savic Godin Filipe
    Saul Gabi
    Griezmann Koke Carrasco

    I also predict a narrow win, either 1-0 or 2-1.

    ¡Aupa Atléti!


    Weak lineup.

  • Barry Ligeirinho

    Moya; Juanfran; Savic; Godin; Felipe; Gabi; Koke; Saul; Carrasco; Griezmann and Gameiro


    You know that Saul is awful? It is also not a good idea to play with 3CMs.

  • Ahmad Musa

    According to some sources this is the line up.
    Vrsaljko Godin Savic Luis.
    Juanfran Saul Gabi Koke
    Carrasco Griezmann
    Please is anyone watching African nations cup? If yes how is Thomas playing? It seems i like that dude very well.

  • Vagabond Messi

    I’d be very mad to see Saul again in the starting line up. This dude basically does nothing but start in every single match from Copa to Cl.

  • Aqil Azhan

    Every game Thomas played won.

  • Aqil Azhan

    The only game he didn’t play was against egypt which ghana lost 1-0

  • In part 2 of the series this is discussed. It’s not that he’s a bad player per se, or because Simeone loves the guy ( though he does).
    The fact behind him playing almost every game is solely due to him being versatile. He’s played at CB and DM at Rayo and managed to score a volley while at CB. He also played at LB, RM, LM, CM and CAM at Atleti.

    The reason behind his poor form is, 1) hes not technical and pacey enough to play on the flanks but does so because of lack of alternatives. 2) he’s still young and lacks experience when plays in CM.

    The stats prove that Saul plays better at the middle of the park, which is evident as he found the net more times than most of our midfielders. He has a long way of developement and tactical intelligence to gain, but eventually will be a solid CM come the time.

  • Georgia Brooks

    It is definitely going to be a tough tie for both the teams. Will be really exciting to watch. Here is a full list of channels broadcasting the match live in case you’re having any issues, check it out:

  • Ian (is always) Wright

    Hey! Thank you for saving my ass.

  • Koke

    I think Torres should start because he’s usually a big game player. Against Barca and Madrid especially. Carrasco also needs to play because even when the rest of our team can’t create he becomes a one-man counterattack all by himself. Griezmann is a given.

    Koke and Gabi will definitely play, so the only real possible question mark is Saul vs. Gaitan. I’ve been lobbying for Gaitan this entire season but he hasn’t hit his best form yet this season. Neither has Saul, but I think in a tough game against Barca, an extra ‘tough guy’ in midfield would be useful. Plus he can be threatening in the box. If we’re losing late in the game then Gaitan comes on.

  • Ahmad Musa

    Thanks for the answer.

  • Hannu

    Saul will score


    i don’t give a fuck about saul development i want someone ready to bring result and titles

  • Vagabond Messi

    Will you please stop trolling? Saul is playing like sht and he needs to be benched. He’s Versatile but he has no place as CM, no place as Am, No place as CB. It’s pathetic when more talented players sit on bench , or Simeone has to field extra CM just to fit him in because that dude can’t do anything except scoring once in 10matche’s. He’s a poor Man’s Raul Garcia, we would’ve atleast Benefitted from Raul Garcia, but Saul is just bringing down whole system.

  • Hannu

    At least he scores in some matches. 😉

  • Vagabond Messi

    So did Raul Garcia , and he played way less and scored more? What’s your point? Saul fanboys are like religious zealots, it’s getting embarassing. You can’t start in every single match just because you scored 1 or 2 goals last season. Shall we bring Vietto back and play him every single match because he scored against Madrid?

  • Vagabond Messi

    Sell Saul,Gameiro and Savic. They’ll atleast pay 100m of club’s debts.


    The A team has 2 solid CMs (Koke, Gabi). The 3rd one will be found at the B team.

  • lukas

    Well Tiago and Augusto are injured so there’s not really another option than to play with Saúl.


    So does the B team have no good CMs?

  • lukas

    I don’t really think it would be very smart to play with B team players against Barca, do you?


    You never know.

  • Vagabond Messi

    Saul was playing even if all other cms were available , so excuse don’t add up Boy. Also when we play 2 Cms, it’s always Saul in one of them. When we can play Koke and Gabi. Btw , any dude from B team will atleast pass 3 m unlike Saul who just is a liability . Talents like Thomas were benched for ages while Saul has been a starter for every single match without performing sht.

  • Zinni DUDU

    Fuck Cholo Fuck! We are playing at home and you are showing again that you are a coward. How can you think about playing at home against Barca where we have to score to play only Griezmann and Carrasco upfront? There were times where we were used to have strong and bully strikers. Now we have have two half metrosexuell players, where one is talking about relegation and the other one is throwing fucking bottels around. I swear by god if carrasco would have done when I would be the coach he would sit the next three months on the bench. Why is Torres not playking? He is always scoring against Barcelona. Did he forget about what Torres did last season against Barcelona? Without him and his away goal we would not even reach the semi finals. I don now know how many important goals Torres scored in his career but it was bunch of them. Torres always steps up against strong teams. What does Simeone? Putting him on the bench against in an important game like this one. And who is playing ? Saul and Juanfran. The one is not able to play 3m passes and the other one has not brought even cross to one of our strikers since September. Fuck off, fuck off, fuck off. Just leave you coward. We invested so much money and you are playing for place 4 in the league and are now risking maybe one of our biggest chances of silverware with putting 9 players who are more defensive minded on the field. How we are gonna score?
    It is enough with this coward and his fucking tactics