September has been a month to forget so far for Atletico while for Barca it's business as usual. A repeat of last seasons hammering could well be on the cards...
Kick-off: Saturday, September 19 2009, 22:00 CET
Camp Nou, Barcelona
Could Lightning Strike Twice?
In this fixture last season Barcelona obliterated Atletico Madrid with a 6-1 scoreline and were three goals to the good before the game was even ten minutes old.
This will be Barca's second home game of the season and the home support will expect to see goals. They managed three last time round against Sporting Gijon, which is consistent with last seasons home record, averaging 3.2 goals per game at Camp Nou in La Liga, while also keeping nine clean sheets.
Barcelona haven't conceded a goal yet and there appears no sign of weakness in the Blaugrana so far this season, so it's hard to see how anything other than their own mindset can cause their downfall and Pep Guardiola has enough quality options at his disposal to keep his players hungry.
Perhaps a lack of understanding between new signing Dmytro Chygrynskiy and the rest of the Barca back four could be exposed by the likes of Diego Forlan and Sergio Aguero.
No team is invincible, though, and they will have to lose eventually but against an out-of-sorts Atletico at home, so early in the new season, it is highly unlikely.
When It Rains, It Pours
Things haven't been going Atletico's way lately. They are without a few key players due to injury and now they face Under 20 World Cup call-ups; the fans are not happy; they can't find form, then they come up against Dionisis Chiotis who plays a blinder in the Champions League in goal for APOEL and next up is Barcelona in the league.
However, the trip to Camp Nou might be a welcome relief for the side who are in the midst of a mini crisis at the Vicente Calderon with fans unhappy at the lack of summer signings at the club.
For the visitors, it's all about which side shows up on Saturday. Will it be the one that dispatched with Panathinaikos with ease in the Champions League qualifiers or will it be the one who took a 3-0 hammering off Malaga at the Rosaleda and have limped to two draws since?
Resino insisted on Friday that his side can win at Camp Nou. Nothing short of a top drawer Atletico performance will do if they are to manage that on Saturday. And even a top drawer display might not be enough, if Barca are in the mood.
Sept 16 Inter 0-0 Barcelona (UEFA Champions League)
Sept 12 Getafe 0-2 Barcelona (La Liga)
Aug 31 Barcelona 3-0 Sporting Gijon (La Liga)
Aug 28 Barcelona 1-0 Shakhtar Donetsk (UEFA Super Cup)
Aug 23 Barcelona 3-0 Athletic Bilbao (Supercopa, 2nd Leg)
Sept 15 Atletico Madrid 0-0 (UEFA Champions League)
Sept 12 Atletico Madrid 1-1 Racing Santander (La Liga)
Aug 30 Malaga 3-0 Atletico Madrid (La Liga)
Aug 25 Atletico 2-0 Panathinaikos (UEFA Champions League)
Aug 19 Panathinaikos 2-3 Atletico (UEFA Champions League)
As he misses out on Champions League football, Dmytro Chygrynskiy is set to keep his place for Barca in La Liga and make his Camp Nou bow. Andres Iniesta played the final fifteen minutes at Inter and may return to the first team.
Probable Starting XI (4-3-3): Valdes – Puyol, Chygrynskiy, Pique, Abidal – Xavi, Toure, Keita – Messi, Ibrahimovic, Iniesta.
Still without Raul Garcia, Camacho and Mariano Pernia, Atletico will also have to do without the services of first choice 'keeper Sergio Asenjo who links up with the Spain Under 20 squad for the World Cup in Egypt. Maxi Rodriguez should start, as should Juanito.
Probable Starting XI (4-4-2): Roberto – Ujfalusi, Ibanez, Juanito, Antonio Lopez – Jurado, Assuncao, Maxi Rodriguez, Simao – Aguero, Forlan.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Lionel Messi makes his first appearance at Camp Nou this season and he is likely to once again show why he is regarded as one of the best, if not the best, world football has to offer.
Midfielder Jurado has been one of Atleti's better players so far this season and they will need every ounce of his energy and exuberance if they are to come away from Camp Nou with anything other than their tails between their legs.
This game has come at the wrong time for Abel Resino's men, whose confidence is waning. Barcelona were in fine form against Inter on Wednesday, despite not finding the net, which is something they should do here to pile more pressure on Los Colchoneros.
Paul Madden, Goal.com