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Nov 29, 2019, 10:30:00 AM

Trippier – Griezmann duel to redefine Atletico vs Barcelona rivalry

Sportsbet.io previews the tantalizing duels to savour from the La Liga showdown between Atletico Madrid and FC Barcelona.

Atletico Madrid, deemed as title contenders during pre-season, have been inconsistent in the La Liga and enter the contest with just six wins this term. Los Rojiblancos have drawn seven of their last ten games, and manager Diego Simeone must work out an effective strategy for Atletico to turn over a new leaf.

Barcelona leads Atletico Madrid by three points on the points table and travel to Wanda Metropolitano with just two losses in 10 games. The Blaugrana have won 13 of the last 18 meetings and aim to prolong the record in the latest showdown, however, their defensive crisis this season could open room for an upset this weekend.

KIERAN TRIPPIER v ANTOINE GRIEZMANN

The England defender has had a positive start to life in Madrid, starting in 11 of 14 games and keeping six clean sheets. Trippier is also a key distributor for Atletico, averaging 42.2 passes per game and registering 19 key passes. Although Diego Simeone will ask him to provide intermittent injections to the game build-up, the 29-year-old must effectively shut down the imminent threat coming off Antoine Griezmann.

Griezmann, an Atletico player from 2014 till the summer of 2019, has had a rocky start to life in a Barcelona shirt and is presented an opportunity to redeem himself. The World Cup winner has contributed seven goals (four goals, three assists) so far and must stand out as the gamechanger for the Blaugrana on his homecoming to the Wanda Metropolitano.

KOKE v ARTHUR MELO

The Atletico skipper is one of the key performers for Diego Simeone at the club, with this term no exception. The Spaniard has completed 626 successful passes out of 744 and averages 57.5 passes per game, apart from registering 27 key passes. Koke’s creative ability in the engine room has been widely respected, and fans are eager to see what comes out of his renewed battle with Arthur Melo.

The Brazilian midfielder comes in as a direct replacement for the suspended Sergio Busquets and is tipped to spell trouble for the Atletico midfield. Arthur has registered a 90% pass success rate and contributed four assists this season, and hence, his contest with Koke should add some elemental drama to the fixture.

ALVARO MORATA v CLEMENT LENGLET

Morata’s streak of four goals in four was halted by Granada last weekend, and the Spanish attacker aims to regain his goalscoring touch against Barcelona. The 27-year-old has a 21.37% goal conversion rate in the La Liga this season and five goals in 706 league minutes in an Atletico shirt. With Diego Costa nursing a neck injury, Morata will spearhead the attack against the Blaugrana.

Lenglet, alongside Gerard Pique, must rescue Barcelona from their ongoing defensive crisis and also script a change in fortunes for their form away from home, this term. The French defender has kept just two clean sheets in the 2019-20 campaign and needs to be diligent enough to avoid exposing the loopholes in the Blaugrana defence.

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Words: William Paul

Images: PA