As injuries to key backline contributors pile up, Barcelona hope to keep their La Liga record blemish free against the also perfect Atletico Madrid in Saturday’s clash at Vicente Calderon Stadium.
Both sides are currently 2-0, but the Catalans will limp into the matchup with several defenders injured. Dani Alves and Douglas remain out, while top goalkeeper Claudio Bravo is dealing with a calf injury sustained during training this week. That sets up Marc-Andre ter Stegen for the first La Liga match of his career.
Barcelona will also miss defender Gerard Pique while he serves the third of his four-match suspension.
However, it’s not like manager Luis Enrique is completely shorthanded. He’ll likely go with Jordi Alba at right back, with Javier Mascherano, Thomas Vermaelen, and Jeremy Mathieu making up the center and left positions.
There could even be concerns in the attack, with star striker Lionel Messi unable to score yet and the Catalans having hit the back of the net only twice thus far thanks to Luis Suarez and Vermaelen, compared to four goals for Diego Simeone’s side.
But in Simeone’s five-year reign, Barcelona have gone an astounding 12-1 across all competitions against Atletico, including four straight in La Liga last season, according to ESPNFC.
Atletico forward Antoine Griezmann is quite aware of his side’s ineptitude against the Catalans, but expects a different result this time.
"It's a big game for us, for the people who will be watching on television, for people who will be at the stadium and we will give everything and try to win," Griezmann said according to Goal.com. "Barcelona always have possession and we will try to press up, be strong at the back and then try to score."
Forward Fernando Torres should help Griezmann pressure Barcelona early. Newest attacking acquisition Jackson Martinez could provide additional support, with a goal already to his name.
And unlike the Catalans, Atletico is only adding to its backline. After switching back to Atletico from Chelsea on a permanent deal this summer, defender Filipe Luiz is expected to start for the first time this season since suffering a muscular injury.
Kickoff Time: Saturday, Sept. 12; 2:30 p.m. ET
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