(Football news) The first LaLiga Santander weekend of 2023 is just around the corner and this first round of the new year has one especially important match: FC Barcelona’s visit to the Estadio Cívitas Metropolitano to face Atlético de Madrid. These are two of the best-supported teams in the competition and they’re always near the top of the table.
They’ll now meet in a contest that has many interesting aspects to consider, with FC Barcelona joint-top and immersed in the fight for the title, while the home side form part of a busy group of clubs jostling for Champions League qualification spots. Both sides will give their all to achieve victory and three fundamental points.
Barça’s recent struggles at the Estadio Cívitas Metropolitano
FC Barcelona have failed to score in their last two visits to Los Colchoneros’ stadium, both of which have ended in defeats for Los Culés. In 2020/21, FC Barcelona lost 1-0 to Atlético de Madrid, while in the subsequent 2021/22 season they lost 2-0 in the same fixture. This is a run that Los Blaugranas will want to break to start 2023 on the front foot.
Plus, in their last game of last year, against RCD Espanyol at the Spotify Camp Nou, they drew a match that they had within their grasp, so they’ll be extra determined to start the new calendar year with a victory that would keep them at the top of the standings in the fight for the league title.
Unfinished business from the World Cup
Out on the Estadio Cívitas Metropolitano pitch there will be a handful of players who recently faced each other during the World Cup final in Qatar. For Atlético de Madrid, they have three world champions in the form of Nahuel Molina, Rodrigo de Paul and Ángel Correa. In the visitors, there are two players who lost that World Cup final when representing France, in Jules Koundé and Ousmane Dembelé. They will surely want some revenge.
A battle of Zamora-level goalkeepers
The match could be decided by the two great goalkeepers who’ll be playing. Jan Oblak is one of the most regular winners of the Zamora Award for the best goalkeeper of each Spanish football season, having won the trophy five times.
In the opposite goal, meanwhile, will be Marc-André ter Stegen who, defending FC Barcelona’s goalposts, has become one of the main favourites to claim the Zamora Trophy this 2022/23 season. For the moment, he is clear at the top of those standings with only six goals conceded in 15 games played (for a coefficient of 0.40 per game), compared to 12 goals conceded in 15 games played (0.80) by Oblak.
Griezmann takes on his former teammates
Last season, Antoine Griezmann was on loan at Atlético de Madrid from FC Barcelona, but, as of last October, the Frenchman has become a permanent member of Los Rojiblancos’ squad once more. After his outstanding performance at the World Cup, he will have an important challenge this weekend as he goes up against his former teammates to try to prove that he will be one of the LaLiga Santander stars in 2023.
A clash of styles
Another of the highlights of this match will be the fact that fans can watch a very interesting clash of styles, as this duel involves two very different coaches. Diego Simeone will face Xavi Hernández and they have two very different ways of playing. The possession football of Los Azulgranas will have a tough test against the more physical and intense style of play that has been used by Atlético de Madrid ever since their Argentine coach has been in their dugout.
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