With a dozen games left to play in La Liga, Sunday afternoon’s clash of between leaders Barcelona and second-placed Atletico Madrid is, to date, the season’s most critical and decisive game for both sides who are vying for the league title.
Barcelona, still undefeated on the season at 26 games and counting, will be looking to land a staggering body blow to an in-form Atlético Madrid who are
the only team within sniffing distance of the Catalans. In recent weeks, Atletico have
surged back into the title race and now, they are just five points behind their hosts.
A Barca victory will leave Atlético teetering, while anything else is certain to ratchet up the drama as the season hurtles towards the home stretch.Who’s In & Who’s Out
Ahead of the vital game, Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde named an 18-man squad on Saturday
, consisting of: Ter Stegen, Piqué, Rakitic, Sergio, A. Iniesta, Suárez, Messi, O. Dembélé, Cillessen, Coutinho, Paulinho, Paco Alcácer, Jordi Alba, Digne, S. Roberto, André Gomes, Umtiti and Vermaelen. Nelson Semedo has been ruled out through injury, and Denis Suárez, Aleix Vidal and Yerry Mina are left out for tactical reasons.
Nelson Semedo is expected to be out for five weeks after picking up a hamstring injury in last Saturday's 6-1 win at home to Girona.
Atletico boss Simeone also called up 19 players
for the trip to Camp Nou on Sunday.
OBLAK, WERNER, GODÍN, FILIPE LUIS, VRSALJKO, LUCAS, JUANFRAN, GIMÉNEZ, THOMAS, KOKE, SAÚL, GABI, VITOLO, OLABE, GRIEZMANN, FERNANDO TORRES, CORREA, DIEGO COSTA, GAMEIRO
Simeone's side lost Yannick Carrasco and Nico Gaitan this weeek
after both stars moved to China. Goalkeeper Miguel Angel Moya also joined Real Sociedad this week.
Lucas Hernandez was passed fit to make the squad while Stefan Savic was not named for Sunday's game.