La Liga Atletico Madrid vs Barcelona: Catalans looking to open gap at top of table

Tipstrr football pundit Sergiu Baltuta takes a look at Sunday's big game in Spain, where Barcelona can go three points clear at the top of La Liga if they win on their tough trip to Atletico Madrid.

Atletico Madrid take on Barcelona in the biggest La Liga game of the weekend on Sunday, with both teams looking to improve on last season, when they finished third and second respectively behind Real Madrid.

The Catalans were given a boost on Saturday, when Real Madrid slipped up 2-1 at Villarreal, meaning a win on Sunday would open up a three-point gap at the top, while Atletico will kick off 11 points adrift of the top two.

The international break appeared to come at the wrong time for Barcelona, who only managed to draw 1-1 in last weekend's home derby with Espanyol, and then needed extra time to clinch a 4-3 win against third-tier outfit Intercity in the Copa Del Rey.

Atletico, on the other hand, returned to action with two comfortable wins, 2-0 against Elche in La Liga and 2-0 against Oviedo in the cup, extending their winning streak to four games.

This season, Barcelona have won all their away league games , apart from their previous trip to the Spanish capital, when they were beaten 3-1 by Real Madrid.

Conversely, Atletico have won only three of their seven league games at Metropolitano this season, losing to both Villarreal and Real Madrid, and drawing the other two.

In their last head-to-head game at Metropolitano, Diego Simeone's team managed a 2-0 win, thanks to a goal and an assist from Luis Surez, and it's worth noting that their last five encounters in Madrid have each produced fewer than three goals.

The Uruguayan is no longer in Atletico's squad, but Atletico can still be optimistic going into this game, considering they suffered only one defeat in their last six meetings with Barcelona, winning three of them.

Barcelona must do without Robert Lewandowski after the Polish striker was suspended for three games for the red card he received against Osasuna, and he will also be absent for their games against Girona and Getafe.

Lewa's absence is undoubtedly a huge blow for Barcelona boss Xavi Hernandez, as without his goals Barcelona have only managed to win three games, against Celta, Almeria and Osasuna.

His probable replacement, Ansu Fati, will no doubt be hoping to capitalise on a possible extended spell in the starting line-up, and Sunday's game would be a great time to get on the scoresheet.

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