After securing their first qualification to the UEFA Champions League knockout rounds since the departure of Lionel Messi, FC Barcelona will be looking to maintain their momentum as they take on Atletico Madrid on Sunday.
It is a must-win game for Barça as they desperately look to keep up with Real Madrid and Girona in the race for the league title.
However, a matchup against Atletico Madrid is always a tough ask for any team, especially with Los Colchoneros winning four of their last five matches.
Pablo Barrios ruled out vs Barcelona
That said, Barcelona have received a major boost heading into this clash, as one of Atletico’s key midfielders has been ruled out with an injury.
The player in question is Pablo Barrios, a 20-year-old who has emerged as one of the rising stars for Diego Simeone’s men this season.
In an official statement, Atletico Madrid have confirmed that Barrios has picked up a cartilage injury and has been ruled out for the upcoming game against Barcelona.
This comes on the back of a knock he picked up in the midweek Champions League game against Feyenoord.
Big boost for Barça?
With 12 competitive appearances, Barrios has turned out to be a key component in Atletico Madrid’s midfield pack this season.
Barrios’ technical sense and discipline, coupled with his usefulness in the second line of press would have made things difficult for a Barcelona midfield depleted by the injury of Gavi.
Not to mention, Barrios had the ideal characteristics to utilise Barcelona’s relatively slow midfielders, which could have given Atletico the advantage, especially in quick breaks.
The absence of Barrios, therefore, could indeed a big boost for Barcelona, though Atleti do have their own set of replacements lined up for the Spaniard.