Atletico to field makeshift defence against Barcelona

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Atletico Madrid could have to face Barcelona's Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez with a second-string defence on Saturday.

Atletico Madrid have been handed mixed news on the injury front ahead of Saturday's La Liga clash with Barcelona.

The capital club released an injury update on Friday declaring Lucas Hernandez, Thomas Lemar, Stefan Savic, Koke and Diego Costa were all fit for the visit of Ernesto Valverde's table-toppers.

Diego Godin and fellow Uruguay international Jose Gimenez, both of whom are carrying injuries, were not mentioned, however, meaning they are likely to miss the game.

That means Savic and Lucas could line up in central defence and be tasked with keeping out the likes of Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi.

Costa will likely start in attack despite being in appalling form, the former Chelsea man having not scored in 18 La Liga matches.

Antoine Griezmann is expected to start against the side he was heavily linked with over the summer before ultimately committing his future to Atletico.

Atletico head into the clash as one of three teams a point behind leaders Barcelona along with Sevilla and Alaves.

They have a poor recent record against Blaugrana though, with no La Liga victory in 16 meetings. Their last triumph was a 2-0 win in the Champions League quarter-final second leg in 2016.

However, they have been imperious at the Wanda Metropolitano this season, winning seven and drawing one of their eight home games in all competitions.

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"We had hard times against them, we did better in the Champions League in qualifying rounds, in La Liga we always struggle,” said Atleti boss Diego Simeone. “Tomorrow we have another chance, we play against a great rival who are living a great moment, we have the energy and we are enthusiasts, the word 'chance' is beautiful when speaking of football.”

Barca will be without Ivan Rakitic on Saturday through injury with Arturo Vidal likely to replace him in midfield. Former Liverpool forward Philippe Coutinho is also doubtful with an injury picked up before the international break.

Valverde will be looking for a response from his side after they were beaten 3-2 at home to Real Betis in their last match before the international break.

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