Bring on the Mattress Makers: Barça – Atletico Madrid

La Liga Preview: Barça – Atletico Madrid; 4pm GolTV

This is what playing Atleti is like.

When two sides with extraordinary talent meet, anything can happen. When Atletico Madrid and Barcelona meet, goals happen. There hasn’t been a scoreless encounter between the two in lord knows how many seasons, and I don’t expect this to be any different. There have been 0-6 and 6-0 lambastings as well as 4-3 goalfests like the last time the teams met in the Vicente Calderon. The Copa del Rey last year was a 1-3 and 2-1, both for Barça.

This year, the relative fortunes, while obviously in miniature because there have only been two matches, are quite different. Barça enter having won two of two, while Atleti enter winless. With one solitary point and one solitary goal to show for their “efforts”, Atleti find themselves in 18th, already 5 points behind Barça, who are in the top spot. These early season showings have relatively little do with the final outcome, of course, but if you’re Atleti, you’re probably hoping to grab a couple of points and make up for your early stumbles and lift the spirits of your fans with a rousing victory against a proven squad of winners.

Only they’ll have to do it without Sergio Asenjo between the sticks because he’s at the U-20 World Cup in Egypt (we are missing Oriol Romeu, 17, and Andreu Fontas, 19; and Botia is there too). Being without an excellent keeper isn’t such a loss, it turns out, as they’ve replaced him with 23-year old Roberto Jiménez, who apparently expects they’re going to win 2-0. I’m all for confidence in your teammates and yourself, but when it comes to traveling to the Camp Nou, you might not want to anger The Gods Who Shall Smite Thee. As absurdly nonchalant as Messi has been over the last few weeks (he’s what, pushed/slapped someone in the SuperCup final and has shown tremendous desire so far), is there a reason to rile him up? Is there any reason to get The Yaya to let loose a thunder blot from midfield and cleave you in twain? Roberto, you’re on notice.

Their squad list is: Roberto, De Gea, Valera, Antonio López, Juanito, Ujfalusi, Perea, Pablo, Jurado, Maxi, Assunçao, Reyes, Simao, Cléber Santana, Koke, Keko, Forlán, Agüero, Sinama-Pongolle.

If it’s a question of pure talent, this game is already over, but because it’s not and because they’re like a wounded animal being backed into a corner, Atleti could come out and give us a serious run for our money. Forlan and Aguero are certainly capable and we all know the brilliance of Maxi and Simão. Yes, they’re coming off of a bad league start as well as a horrendous game at home against APOEL in the Champions League, but remember when they put a 2-1 hurtin’ on Liverpool in the preseason at Anfield? I do. Forlan and Aguero both scored in that and you know they love to work the magic against bigger clubs. I wonder if Forlan feels he has something to prove against Barça after he was “snubbed” during the transfer season in favor of this one tall guy. We’ll find out, I suppose, but another tall guy might have something to say about that.

So, turning our attention the blaugrana:

Messi signed a new contract until 2016, which hopefully will galvanize him into scoring like 800 goals this year (and every year after that, come to think of it), starting with this league fixture. Other people it should galvanize: the rest of the team. Why? Because now they know that being the best there is means you get the best contract there is, that being better means you get paid more. And that should put some of those round objects into that net thingy. That’s the theory, anyway.

Either way it goes, I think we’re going to have a good game considering that we just drew 0-0 and we’re not likely to sit back and soak up the glory after that. How often does the squad want to piss off Baby Kxevin in a single week? I suggest attempting to never do it again, if they know what’s good for them.

We’re going to see Chygrynskiy out there again as Dima gets rotated in for Puyol or Pique in a bid not only to acclimate him more, but to get him his first start in the Camp Nou. I expect Puyol to be the one rested simply because, well, he’s getting up there in age. If we can start Marquez and Chygrynskiy, I think that could be very positive for us, even if they haven’t had any real time together. Pique and Dima would probably be the best bet again, with Alves on the right and Abidal on the left to provide maximum support. Then we have a midweek game against Racing Santander in which Marquez can get some serious minutes. Reintegrating Marquez is a priority of mine as long as he’s 100% fit, so putting him out there could be a really good step forward, especially if we can play Iniesta as well and really get some of the team serious reps.

Predicted lineup: Valdes, Alves, Pique, Chygrynskiy, Abidal, Busi, Iniesta, Xavi, Henry, Ibra, Messi

This is a studly lineup, of course, but I think it’s necessary, considering that we can push ourselves in this match, rest a lot of people against Racing, and then pick it back up again against Malaga and then Dynamo Kiev in the CL. I think that this lineup affords us maximum creativity and maximum stability considering that Puyol is a bit busted up and The Yaya could use the view from the sidelines (which he has with his laser vision anyway, but you know what I mean).

Official score prediction: KAPOW 2-0, we bring home the bacon. 3-0 would be lovely, Roberto. We’re still a bit shaky on offense, but on defense we’re as solid as it gets (we haven’t allowed a goal since the Gamper match). Goals by Henry and Ibr, both assisted by Messi.

Local/Barcelona: 10pm
New York/EST: 4pm
San Diego: 1pm
Sydney, Australia: 6am Sunday
Singapore: 4am Sunday
India: 2am Sunday

If you are interested in meeting the face behind one the names, I will be at Nevada Smiths for this game. Email me at isaiah[at]barcelonafootballblog[dot]com if you’d like to or just show up and scream my name until a dork with glasses answers.

Check out our Where to Watch page for a list of bars that show GolTV.

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By Isaiah

Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in the greater New York City area with his wife and daughter.


  1. I also think Puyol will be rested. Pique and Chygnasty should make a good combo in the center. BTW, is Maxwell still out?

  2. Dude, how did you know about the wild dogs destroying game balls? I think that will TOTALLY happen…….crazy!!!

  3. I wonder how long Maxwell will be down for sitting on the bench. Maybe he can get 90 against Racing?

    I hope Ibra keeps up his 1 goal per league match hot streak going… if i extrapolate that correctly, he should get, what? 38 goals this season. Not to shabby… jaja… that is, of course, if he plays every game 😉

    1. It’s so sad that I’m happy that he’s injured.

      Goddammit Pep! Why didn’t you buy him. >:(

  4. Agreed on the 2-0, and the scorers. Jealous of people who live in areas where you can watch the games with fellow supporters, or watch the game in public with other people at all.

    Just out of curiosity, why do you have San Diego as one of the time marks? LA hatred?

  5. On Cadena Ser this morning, they asked Athletico fans on the street to complete this sentence:

    “Beating Barca at the Camp Nou on Saturday would be like…”

    One guy said- like winning the lottery.
    Another guy said- like having the most beautiful girl in the world come up to you at a club and buy you a drink.

    And so on; about 5-6 fans gave answers.

    The last guy (who ended up winning an Aguero jersey) said-
    “Beating Barca at the Camp Nou on Saturday would be like… beating Barca at the Camp Nou. It’s not going to happen!”

    And there you have it. 🙂

    Anyone liveblogging tomorrow? I’m tempted to go watch it at a bar, but Gol TV is on THIN ICE after last week’s broadcast. So, I might just stream it.

    1. No, not on vacation but I’ve been extremely busy at work; just worked 10 days straight so I’m relaxing for today.

  6. Great preview!

    I’m a bit concerned about Atleti because they’ve had such a poor start. In the last minutes against APOEL, you could see that Forlan really got angry and he shot with full power from every distance. And damn, there were some really close ones! If he continues as he stopped, we are in trouble. You can say it’s only the beginning of the season, but being 8 points behind is a catastrophy for a team with the aspiration of Atleti, be it on the 3rd or the 23rd playday. Plus you cannot expect Atleti to get more points than us or RM in the near future. So it’s almost like do-or-die for them.

    I don’t know how this game ends, I won’t make a prediction, but I expect at least 4 goals in total.

    Oh, and by the way, Atleti have Koke and Keko in their team? lol 😀
    That’s why my expectations are high, I would like to see an equally amazing match as the 3-4 in the Vicente Caldéron, but this time with the better ending for us!

  7. Our “safe” prediction has always been 3-1 us. considering that we are an attacking team.

    Taking in consideration that it is Atletico vs. us, one might expect more goals, 4-2, 3-4, 6-0,

    But if the first two games of the season are any indicator, 2-0 sounds about right. We have not yet conceded, Atletico have only scored once (none through their forwards).

    Plus, our wins have been workmanlike, not Magical-Dazzling-exhibition-displays-of-dominant-superiority.

    so, i will have to go with 2-0, Ibrahimovic and Xavi. Likely assits by Messi and Titi. I’m expecting a big game from Alves, as he has been in good form.

    Marquez and Txignasty might be a gamble with Aguero, especially if Simao catches Alves tracking back to slowly. Their right side doesn’t worry me. I’d almost be tempted to play Puyol-Marquez-Txigrinki-Maxwell to exploit their crap right side, but since Alves is so on form, you gotta go with him.

  8. I’m not 100% about this but but I read that Pique twisted his ankle Wednesday, so he might not play

  9. He twisted his ankle before the Inter game. And i think he was fine.

    They EMD reported that he made it through practice fine after having twisted it.

  10. i always enjoy the games against atletico. they come out to play futbol!
    since aguero is a barca killer and forlan aint bad either, i say 3-2 us.
    goals from zlatan, messi, pedro!

  11. I still remember the year when all the Spanish media was crazy about the only match in Spain that meant plenty of goals (Barça-Atlético)…well, that year it was a 0-0! 🙂
    Atlético shows personlaity against Barcelona much more often than against the EE. I guess that it is like being able to bully your neighbour instead of your older brother, who happens to be bigger and stronger than you and to share bedroom with you.
    And, as Isaiah says, they won at Anfield (ok, it was a friendly). So a one nil victory in the last minute due to the ball entangling in Chygrinskiy’s hair and him walking into the net will be fine for me 🙂

  12. Isaiah, excellent preview once again. How do you do it? You’re like Ray Hudson but with logic. You should write professionally. I’d have you over Stannard any day of the week and twice on Sundays. 😀

  13. Can anyone run the liveblog today?

    I’ll be watching at Nevada Smiths (with the rest of the Barcelona Penya) so I can’t run the liveblog and the other members of the blog are also unavailable. Does anyone else want to run it?

  14. nice article! I want to see chigro+puyi today 😉

    …messi of course, a litle ibra and some xaviniesta please pep

  15. Expect centreback of Puyol and Chyg. Like has been said, Pique twisted his ankle once already and needs a little rest. On that note, the Yaya has been putting on some tired performances, and he can easily be replaced by the Kaiser, Mr. Marquez. I expect Iniesta to start alongside the midfield general Mr. Xavier Hernandez. But we will see in an hour… I am pumped… bring it on…

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