Atletico Madrid vs Barcelona A huge match at the Wanda
Atletico Madrid‘s clash with Barcelona this Saturday has a number of subplots. From Joao Felix‘s fine fun of form, Antoine Griezmann returning to what was his home, Jan Oblak‘s gloves and Lionel Messi‘s fine left foot, which has fired him to seven Pichichis, there’s a lot to keep onlookers interested.
Oblak is a goalkeeper for big games. He matured under siege from Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich and Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool to become one of the best in the world. In seven games this season he has conceded just seven goals, while he has kept five clean sheets, which is something he came close to doing the last time Barcelona visited, only for Lionel Messi to beat him late on.
Messi himself is coming up against one of his favourite opponents. In the 41 games he’s played against them, he has scored 32 goals. Saturday’s meeting, though, is crucial for Barcelona‘s aspirations this season and they already cannot afford another loss.
Games like this tend to bring out the best in the No.10, but he has struggled to get up to his usual level so far this season. Messi hasn’t been as decisive as usual, and he hadn’t scored a goal from open play until taking on Real Betis last time out.
The Catalans’ captain has again been at the centre of attention this past week for his words upon returning from Argentina, complaining that he’s “tired of always being the problem” at the club, and rumours that he could leave next summer have taken off again.
On Saturday, Messi will come up against Atletico‘s wall. On top of that, they’ll have the genius of Joao Felix at the other end, though the Portuguese will need his goalkeeper to help him if he is to stake a claim to become LaLiga Santander’s new king.