Home News aguero to score and barcelona to stumble against atletico

Aguero to score and Barçelona to stumble against Atlético

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The most appetising of this week’s La Liga fixtures sees Aguirre’s 5th-placed Atlético Madrid side travel to Catalunya to face in-form Barcelona. Both clubs had disappointing starts to the season and have recovered to play some scintillating football of late, and both have made excellent progress in their respective European exploits.

Form

In the last three La Liga gameweeks, Barcelona have scored 10 goals and Atlético 8, with both teams triumphant in all three fixtures. Barça are unbeaten this season and have won all of their home matches. Atlético have won one of their three away matches, in their most recent away trip, in Bilbao.

Men to watch

In an interesting subtext, the tie sets against each other the league’s two leading scorers so far, both with 5 goals; 19 year old Kun Aguero, player of the tournament in this summer’s U20 World Cup, and Leo Messi, many people’s candidate for world player of the year, both of Argentina and both labelled, with more justice than most, the “new Maradonas”. Ultimately the fine line of the result could be hinge on a case of the battle of the new Maradonas.

Head-to-heads

If one sets aside the 6-0 hammering handed out to Atlético by the azulgrana towards the end of last season, a huge blow to Atlético’s UEFA cup hopes, Atlético actually have an excellent record against Barça in recent years; indeed, the Madrid club have not lost in the last three visits to the Camp Nou, winning two and drawing one. Equally, the personnel of the two clubs has changed vastly, and one would hope that Atleti will not be overly inhibited by that 6-0 reverse.

Injuries

Barcelona’s squad has been hit quite severely with injuries recently, although Milito should recover in time to take part in Sunday’s match. Equally, Ronaldinho performed well midweek and will be expected to start alongside Henry and Messi up front. However, Márquez, Touré, Zambrotta, Edmílson and Puyol will miss the match, along with long-term absentee Samuel Eto’o. In the absence of Puyol and Touré, don’t be surprised to see a return to defensive fragility after the solidity of the opening weeks of the season, especially given the potency of the Atlético attack. Atlético have far fewer worries, and will start with a pretty much full strength side (Perrea is still missing), with many key players including Forlán rested for at least 45 mins during Thursday’s 5-0 thumping of Kayseri Erciyesspor.

Possible lineups

Barcelona: Valdés, Oleguer, Thuram, Milito, Abidal, Iniesta, Deco, Xavi, Messi, Ronaldinho, Henry

Atlético: Leo Franco (should have recovered from his muscle strain), Seitaridis, Pablo, Ze Castro, Pernía, Maniche, Raúl García, Simao, Reyes, Forlán, Aguero

Prediction

Atleti’s good record at the Camp Nou will count for something, and they will still be reeling at their performance in the 6-0 whitewash last year. Ordinarily nI would expect nothing to stop Barcelona in their current form, however, defensive injuries could take their toll, and the loss of Touré will certainly be felt. There will certainly be goals in this game, and I can see neither team coming out on top at the end, with a 2-2 draw on the cards.

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Hugo Steckelmacher has loved football since he can remember - indeed, his mother often jokes that he kicked so much as a baby due to his eagerness to get out of the womb and play football! Of German-Jewish descent, a rocky love-affair with Tottenham began at a young age, and his favourite players as a child were Nick Barmby and Gary Mabbutt. At the age of ten, he began to watch La Liga football and fell in love with the league and especially with the "juego bonito" of the two biggest clubs, Real Madrid and Barcelona. Now living in Barcelona, Hugo regularly [sic] writes on La Liga and Tottenham.