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Barça are off to Atlético Madrid this Saturday at 9.00pm CEST in what is traditionally one of the biggest clashes of any Liga season.
Let’s take a closer look at the mattress-makers.
Founded by Basques living in the Spanish capital (hence the name and the red and white shirts modelled on those of Athletic Club) Atlético Madrid is one of the biggest clubs in the world. But competing in the same league as the even more gargantuan Real Madrid and FC Barcelona means trophies have been harder to come by than one would expect for a club of such stature.
They have won eleven leagues, including two this century, in 2014 and again last season. They have also won the Europa League three times in the last decade, while also reaching the Champions League final twice, suffering the pain of losing on both occasions to their city rivals Real.
Located in the Rosas neighbourhood, the Wanda Metropolitano replaced the Vicente Calderón as the home of Atlético in 2017. It is an expansion of an abandoned ground originally built for an unsuccessful bid to host the World Athletics Championships. Holding over 68,000 supporters, it takes its name from the Chinese real estate company that acquired the naming rights. It was here that Liverpool beat Tottenham 2-0 to win the Champions League in 2019.
DID YOU KNOW?
Atlético Madrid are popularly known as los colchoneros (the ‘matrress-makers’) because their red-and-white stripes resemble what used to be the traditional colours of mattresses.
Atlético also co-owns Liga MX club Atlético San Luis, and the Canadian Premier League side Atlético Ottawa.
Atlético originally played in the working class district of Vallecas (home today of Rayo Vallecano) and still today are traditionally viewed as the more working class of the two big Madrid clubs.
King Felipe VI of Spain is an Atlético Madrid fan, and has been the club’s honorary president since 2003.
HEAD TO HEAD
Games between Barça and Atlético developed a tradition of being absolute humdingers, with goals flying in at both ends, but perhaps as a result of Diego Simeone’s ‘caution first’ approach, encounters in the last decade have instead tended to be intense, tactical and low-scoring affairs.
When Carrasco scored the only goal in Atlético’s win at the Wanda Metropolitano last season, it put an end to Barça’s astonishing run of 20 consecutive league encounters without losing to Atlético.
When the two sides met at Camp Nou later in the season, Atlético’s one runaway lead was fading and Barça were mounting a late charge for the title. Had Barça won that game, things might have been very different afterwards, but instead it ended 0-0 at the red-and-whites would eventually claim the title.
Last five meetings:
1/12/19 (LIGA) Atlético 0 Barça 1 (Messi)
9/1/20 (SUPER CUP IN JEDDAH) Barça 2 (Messi, Griezmann) Atlético 3
30/6/20 (LIGA) Barça 2 (OG, Messi) Atlético 2
21/11/20 (LIGA) Atlético 1 Barça 0
8/5/21 (LIGA) Barça 0 Atlético 0
Atlético’s title defence got off to a strong enough start, with four wins and two draws from their first six outings, curiously their only dropped points coming at the Wanda against Villarreal and Athletic Club. However, last weekend they suffered a shock 1-0 defeat at Alavés, a side that had lost every game played until then, and are now fourth in the table with two points more than Barça but having played one game less.
Their Champions League campaign began with an unimpressive 0-0 draw at home to Porto, but a 2-1 win at AC Milan has very much changed the picture in Group B, which is currently topped by Liverpool, who Atlético have yet to play.
Most capped internationals
Luis Suárez (Uruguay, 125); Antoine Griezmann (France, 98); Héctor Herrera (Mexico, 88); José Giménez (Uruguay, 70); Stefan Savić (Montenegro, 59); Koke (Spain, 58); Šime Vrsaljko (Croatia, 51); Yannick Carrasco (Belgium, 51); Jan Oblak (Slovenia, 40); Kieran Trippier (England, 34); Rodrigo de Paul (Argentina, 31); Thomas Lemar (France, 27)
Top scorers 2020/21 (all competitions)
Luis Suárez (21), Marcos Llorente (13), Joao Felix (10), Angel Correa (9), Yannick Carrasco (7)
Luis Suárez best goals against Granada
Luis Suárez, one of the best and most successful players ever to come out of Uruguay, certainly in the modern era, joined Barça from Liverpool in 2014 and went on to score 198 goals for the club, placing him third in the all-time list. He departed for Atlético the summer before last.
Antoine Griezmann joined Barça from Atlético Madrid in 2019, and after making 74 appearances and scoring 22 goals, making him the club’s second highest scoring Frenchman of all time after Thierry Henry, he is now back at Atlético on a loan deal.
Best known for his over 100 caps, including three World Cups, for Argentina, Diego Simeone played a large part of his club football at Atlético. Following retirement, he managed a number of clubs in his home country plus Catania in Italy before being invited back to Atlético in 2011 as a replacement for the sacked Gregorio Manzano.
He has gone on to become the club’s most successful manager ever, leading them to two Liga and three Europa League titles, and to the final of the Champions League on two occasions.
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