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In a game that could have a huge say on the way the title race shapes up, La Liga leaders Barcelona will clash against second-placed Atletico Madrid at the Camp Nou on Sunday.
The Catalans sit atop of the La Liga table, having accumulated 66 points from 26 fixtures so far in the 2017/18 season. However, their 1-1 draw against Las Palmas during the midweek has allowed Atletico a sniff and with just five points separating the two teams at the moment, the Rojiblancos have a great chance of reducing it to just two with a win at the Camp Nou this weekend.
Ahead of the weekend’s blockbuster encounter, here we take a look at the combined XI featuring the best of players from both teams (injured and suspended players not considered).
Both Oblak and Marc-Andre ter Stegen have been sensational this season for Atletico and Barcelona respectively. But it is the Slovenian who just edges past the German for our combined XI, having kept more clean sheets and conceded fewer goals in the La Liga.
The Barcelona academy graduate has nailed down his place as the first-choice right-back for the Catalans despite them investing heavily in the summer to sign Nelson Semedo. The 26-year old has one goal and six assists in the league, miles ahead of Atletico’s Juanfran and is an easy pick for this side.
The controversial centre-back has been the leader of the Barcelona side in many ways this season, helping them to the top of the pile. Pique has been a proverbial rock at the back for the Blaugrana this term and having him in this line-up is a no-brainer.
Atletico have the best defensive record in the league this season and that has a lot to do with this man, Diego Godin. A no-nonsense old-school defender, the Uruguayan is a vital presence on the pitch for Simeone’s side and not many attackers would like the prospect of going up against him and Pique together.
The Spaniard has been in terrific form this season, after a dull campaign last time around and has been one of Barcelona’s main outlets going forward from the left-hand side. With 2 goals and 7 assists to his name this term, the 28-year-old has emerged as one of the best in the league and makes the cut ahead of Atletico’s Filipe Luis.
The Argentine has once again been the man to count on for Barcelona. Leo has single-handedly dragged his side out of trouble on many occasions and has already notched up 23 league goals and 13 assists. Will walk into any side in this world and this XI is no exception.
The Spanish international is once again back to his best after a sub-par season in 2016/17. And when he is in his elements, few are as good as him in what he does. A definite pick for the combined XI.
Busquets’ international teammate has continued to play a pivotal role for Atletico this season. Able to play anywhere in the midfield, the 26-year old has scored thrice and assisted four in the Liga, with a goal and an assist coming in his last two appearances. With Paulinho’s form on the wane after a bright start at Barcelona, Koke gets the nod.
The Frenchman may not be deployed on the left flank anymore but it is the position where he started out and can do a job if needed. Griezmann has been in sensational form of late and has netted 7 goals in his last 2 games, including all four in the 4-0 win over Leganes in the midweek. With 15 goals and 10 assists to his name from 23 league appearances, he walks into this combined line-up.
The former Chelsea man returned to Atletico in the summer but wasn’t able to play until January due to the club’s transfer ban. However, since his return, the Spaniard has been instrumental for the Rojiblancos, netting 5 times and assisting 4 more in 10 games in all competitions. Definite selection.
Imagine a forward line comprising of the dangerous Diego Costa combined with the in-form, lethal Luis Suarez. That would send shivers down the spines of any defence. The Uruguayan has found his bearings after a slow start to the season and has accumulated 20 goals already in 23 league outings. A no-brainer selection.