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3 ways Atletico Madrid can halt Barcelona

| 13.10.2017

Simeone’s side have a poor record against Barca

Diego Simeone has transformed Atletico Madrid during his six years in charge. The club has grown into one of the best sides in Europe. But they’ve always struggled against Barcelona during the Argentine’s tenure.   

Simeone has only led his team to victory in two of the 21 games he’s played against the Catalan club. Neither of those wins came in La Liga.

Atletico host the league leaders on Saturday evening and defeat would leave Los Colchoneros nine points off the top of the table.

It would be a huge gap at this stage of the season. The Coral News Team have looked at three ways Atletico can get a crucial win.

Crowd the Midfield

Barcelona have fielded a 4-4-2 in recent weeks following Ousmane Dembele’s injury. Whether they stick with that system or revert to their usual 4-3-3, Atletico can’t afford to let them play penetrating passes through central areas.

One way to do that would be to leave Yannick Ferreira Carrasco on the bench and move Saul Niguez out to the left. Thomas Partey could then partner Gabi in central midfield, with Koke on his usual position on the right.

That would give them a solid midfield four who are all natural central midfielders. It’d give them a very compact shape, minimising the gaps for Barcelona to pass through.

Even then, they’ll still need a little luck. Lionel Messi, in particular, has the quality to overcome any defensive system if he’s on his game.

Go for It (within reason)

Simeone has moulded Atletico into one of the best defensive units in Europe. They’ve had conceded the least goals in La Liga in three of the last four seasons.

But they don’t score enough against Barcelona. They’ve only got nine in the 11 league games they’ve played against them under Simeone’s leadership.

It’s not a question of quality. Antoine Griezmann is one of the best attacking players in world football. Angel Correa is a lively forward that makes things happen. Koke doesn’t look out of place alongside Andres Iniesta and David Silva in the Spain side. And Saul has a habit of scoring big goals.

Barcelona will dominate possession as they usually do. Even if Atletico play the compact midfield outlined above, there’s still enough technical ability to make their time on the ball count.

Valverde Factor

Simeone may have a poor record against Barcelona, but he’s fared much better against their new manager.

The Argentine never lost to either Valencia or Athletic Bilbao while they were managed by Ernesto Valverde.

Valverde endured a difficult first summer at Barcelona but results have been excellent since the season began. His new team are five points clear after winning all seven league games so far.

They’ve yet to be truly tested though. Atletico’s organisation, discipline and work-rate has confounded the former Bilbao manager before. Simeone will be looking to get the better of his counterpart again.

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Daniel Anwar

Daniel has written about sport for Coral, Squawka, FourFourTwo and the Premier League, among others.