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Three talking points ahead of Atletico Madrid vs Barcelona

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Photo by Eric Alonso/Getty Images

Barcelona’s 3-1 win over Napoli midweek was thoroughly deserved as it came off the back of one of the team’s best showings all season.

The Catalans were refreshing in attack and solid defensively, with Pau Cubarsi and Lamine Yamal both influencing the game in unimaginable ways.

The result against the Italians helped Barcelona progress to the quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League for the first time since 2020. Their next game, unfortunately, will only be one notch more difficult.

Xavi’s men now stare Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid in the eye. Both teams sealed a place in the final eight of the UCL this week, and the results at Civitas Metropolitano will go a long way in boosting their morale for the remainder of the campaign.

The last time the two teams met, the Catalans took three points courtesy of a Joao Felix goal. With the venue now playing in Los Rojiblancos’ favour, it remains to be seen what Xavi has in store.

Barça Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Atletico Madrid vs Barcelona.

Reason to believe

Barcelona’s season appeared set to go trophy-less. With La Liga almost out of reach and the UEFA Champions League boasting much stronger contenders, the Catalans were far from any form of silverware this campaign.

The UCL draw earlier this week, however, infused hope in Catalonia and fans across the globe. It gives the team an ever-so-shot hope of making an impression in the biggest competition of them all and maybe just pushing through.

Xavi’s side have been drawn up against Paris Saint-Germain in the quarterfinals of the event. Luis Enrique’s side may be the favourites, but it is one of the better draws Barcelona could have asked for from the pool.

PSG are a slightly better-oiled unit, but not one sans flaw. Progressing to the semifinal, thus, is far from impossible and in such a scenario, Barcelona will face one of Atletico Madrid or Borussia Dortmund.

Reaching the final of the UCL, thus, is a possibility if Barcelona can step up at the business end of this season. Momentum, however, will be key for the same.

The team is in a good moment after the win over Napoli, and tomorrow’s clash against Atletico Madrid will only be more difficult.

A win over Los Rojiblancos, however, will do a world of good to the team’s confidence ahead of a taxing schedule next month.

Time for Joao Felix?

A huge game awaits Joao Felix. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

The very mention of Atletico Madrid this season at Barcelona brings up the topic of Joao Felix, and rightfully so.

After all, the Portuguese forward moved to Catalonia hoping to start a fresh start to his career and does not share a good history with Los Rojiblancos.

Felix and Simeone do not see eye to eye, and while the player is still contractually obligated to the Madrid-based side, he does not see himself to be linked with them in any capacity.

The youngster thus hopes to push for a move to Barcelona next summer but is yet to impress the management for his lack of consistency overshadows his quality.

A strong display tomorrow will go a long way in not only convincing Barcelona but also boosting the player’s morale. After all, it is a personal battle of vengeance for him, one that was visible when the two teams met earlier this season.

It would only thus be poetic for Xavi to award Felix a start despite his lean patch and hope his determination helps the team. If it works out, it can only be described as a win-win situation for all parties involved.

The international break

The clash against Diego Simeone’s side will also mark the end of the current club football window. Players will immediately disperse to link up with their respective national teams, and there is thus a feeling that the team must sign off on a high.

After all, Barcelona’s first five matches after the break include two games against PSG and one against Real Madrid and the team needs all the momentum they can gather.

There is concurrently another link between the international break and Barcelona’s clash tomorrow – the teenage internationals.

Lamine Yamal and Pau Cubarsi have both been called up by Luis de La Fuente to participate in Spain’s upcoming friendlies. While the former has donned the red colours before, it is the defender’s maiden call-up.

Considering how reckless international minutes have predisposed so many of Barcelona’s young talents to injuries, there is understandably worry in the club administration over the two teenage stars.

Xavi might thus be tempted to limit their minutes tomorrow while they are still under his control to limit the damage. Yet, one cannot deny that Cubarsi and Yamal are critical for a game against an opposition like Atletico Madrid.

It will thus be interesting to see how Xavi combines the two factors and balances the players’ minutes so as to extract the best from them while also guarding their fitness. A massive test awaits the manager.

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