With Saturday’s 2-2 draw against Celta Vigo in Galicia, Barcelona handed rivals Real Madrid the advantage in the race for the La Liga title.
Quique Setien’s side took the lead twice, though agonisingly settled for a draw in the dying embers of the match. With two stalemates in three games, an apparent lack of killer instinct has handed the advantage to Los Blancos, who now hold a two-point advantage over their famed rivals.
Barça face their toughest test since the restart as they host an in-form Atletico Madrid on Tuesday night in a match that could have serious title implications. With Real showing no signs of slowing down, Barça desperately need to return to winning ways, but face an Atleti side still battling to achieve their own goals.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen (GK) – Questions were raised about Ter Stegen’s wall for Iago Aspas’ late leveller, but the German shot-stopper had already kept Vigo at bay with a string of important saves throughout the match. Barça’s first-choice goalkeeper remains a key figure between the sticks.
Nelson Semedo (RB) – Looking to bounce back from a poor performance at the weekend, the marauding wing back offers much support down the right flank. The 26-year-old can catch the eye with his passing and dribbling ability, too.
Gerard Pique (CB) – One of the first names on the team sheet, the veteran defender organises the defence and provides excellent ball playing ability from deep. His experience will be of great value in this frantic fixture, especially in dealing with Diego Costa.
Clement Lenglet (CB) – Lenglet is expected to return to the starting lineup against Atletico, replacing Samuel Umtiti. The 25-year-old has been favoured over his compatriot for the most part of the season in the heart of the Barcelona defence.
Jordi Alba (LB) – Another experienced member of the squad, Alba looked out of sorts against Vigo, though remains the best option for Setien at left back. His tendency to bomb forward and provide width in attack is a fundamental hallmark of Barça’s style.
Sergio Busquets (DM) – He missed out on the Vigo game through suspension, but the lanky midfielder will be back for Tuesday night’s clash. Busquets reads the game effortlessly from deep, displaying excellent ball control and passing range when dictating the tempo of the game.
Ivan Rakitic (CM) – The Croatian midfielder gels defensive and attacking phases with ease. His performances since the return of La Liga have been impressive, even if his some of his own club’s fans remain unconvinced by his output.
Arturo Vidal (CM) – Based on his most recent performance, some Barça fans would prefer to have Riqui Puig in here instead of Vidal. However, with the magnitude of this one, Vidal’s experience and ball-winning grit in midfield will make it tough for Atleti.
Lionel Messi (RW) – Since returning to action, Barça’s poster boy has two goals and five assists in La Liga. With Barça in desperate need of the win, you sense that Messi is going to have a huge impact on the outcome.
Luis Suarez (ST) – Netted twice against Vigo, though his efforts ultimately couldn’t secure his side victory. The former Liverpool man’s brace against Vigo were his first goals since recovering from a knee operation, but expect him to be threatening again on Tuesday.
Antoine Griezmann (LW) – The former Atletico forward has endured a tough start to his Barcelona career, though will be desperate to prove his worth. A chance to get one over his former employers is the perfect opportunity for Griezmann to show he can be more than a bit part player for La Blaugrana.