Barcelona, Atletico have questions to answer in Champions League games
Madrid, Nov 22 (IANS) FC Barcelona and Atletico Madrid need to find their identity and their form when they play their respective Champions League football games on Wednesday night.
Barcelona will welcome Lionel Messi back into the side for the visit to play Glasgow Celtic, but need to show they are more than a one-man team, while Atletico Madrid have an identity crisis to overcome when they entertain PSV Eindhoven, reports Xinhua.
Atletico have already assured their place in the last 16 of the competition, but last season’ s beaten finalists are still reeling from the 0-3 home defeat against Real Madrid on Saturday night.
That defeat showed how Atletico have changed since their painful defeat on penalties to their neighbours in the 2016 final.
While Atletico head coach Diego Simeone has swapped steel for style with the team playing a more aesthetic passing game, the problem is when plan ‘A’ doesn’t work, they now lack the defensive meanness to win matches.
The Atletico coach has to consider whether or not to continue with Saul Niguez, Koke, Gabi and Yannick Carrasco in midfield, or introduce Tiago Cardoso to give better protection to the defence. With nothing at stake on Wednesday, he may be tempted to experiment with his starting 11.
Barcelona wasted a chance to put pressure on Real Madrid at the weekend when they were held to a 0-0 draw at home to Malaga in a game they controlled but failed to kill off.
Messi should be back for the trip to Glasgow after suffering a stomach bug at the weekend and Luis Suarez is available after suspension, but with accusations of ‘Messi dependence’ being hurled at Barcelona, coach Luis Enrique will want to see other players produce a reaction.
Ivan Rakitic will start after resting at the weekend, while the Barcelona coach will want to see an improved display from midfielder Sergio Busquets, who has not been at his best this season.
Defender Jordi Alba should start after recovering from a hamstring injury and he will offer more pace and width down the left for a game where Barcelona need at least a point against a rival they defeated 7-0 earlier in the season.