Barcelona v Atletico Madrid: Griezmann and Joao Felix on the bench

By Sports Desk June 30, 2020

Antoine Griezmann was named on the bench for Barcelona's LaLiga meeting with Atletico Madrid, for whom Joao Felix was left out of the starting line-up.

Quique Setien selected just two regular attackers for the visit of Atleti to Camp Nou on Tuesday, with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez joining forces in attack as the reigning champions looked to regain top spot from Real Madrid.

Former Atleti forward Griezmann was joined on the bench by Ansu Fati, who was handed a starting berth in the 2-2 draw against Celta Vigo at the weekend.

Holding midfielder Sergio Busquets took the place of Fati following his return from suspension, with the only other change seeing Clement Lenglet replace Samuel Umtiti.

Diego Simeone made five alterations to the team that started a 2-1 win over Deportivo Alaves on Saturday.

Joao Felix and Alvaro Morata dropped to the bench, while Koke missed out through suspension. Diego Costa, Marcos Llorente and Yannick Carrasco were drafted into the line-up in their places.

Santiago Arias and Felipe were named in defence, with Kieran Trippier on the bench and Stefan Savic absent due to a ban.

Related items

  • Barca boss Setien sniffs title chance despite Real Madrid's seven-win streak Barca boss Setien sniffs title chance despite Real Madrid's seven-win streak

    Barcelona boss Quique Setien is clinging to the hope Real Madrid will falter to allow for a late twist in the title race.

    Despite holding a narrow LaLiga lead when the season resumed, Barcelona have slipped four points behind their great rivals and only four rounds of games remain.

    A coronation for Zinedine Zidane's team appears inevitable, given they have won seven straight fixtures since the league's suspension ended.

    But Setien is refusing to wave the white flag, saying on Tuesday: "Of course we can still win LaLiga. Mathematics says it. We have to keep hope until the final day.

    "We have to look at what we can do. Win, leave good feelings, make progress. And if not in this situation, everything we do is worth it for the next one."

    Should Barcelona take the title battle down to the final day, that would be a small triumph in itself given current circumstances.

    They have the Champions League resumption to come in August, then a new LaLiga season after that, and Setien wants to see signs of progress from a team who have struggled since COVID-19 caused the 2019-20 campaign to be stalled for three months.

    Victory in the home derby against Espanyol on Wednesday is surely imperative.

     

    Club president Josep Maria Bartomeu has indicated he plans to keep Setien on for the 2020-21 season, with the coach speaking of "the circus that is football" as speculation surrounded his position.

    "The club are happy with the work we do, I focus on that," he said in a news conference. "I don't value whether we win a game or lose others. I don't live daily, I work with more perspective.

    "We are quite happy, as I have said on numerous occasions. Results are one thing and the feelings are another."

    Setien feels his team are performing better than their results have been indicating, speaking of "very good moments" in the matches where Barcelona have dropped points. Three draws, alongside the four wins they have achieved since LaLiga returned, have been costly.

    Coach Setien was cheered by Antoine Griezmann's delicious chip in Sunday's 4-1 win at Villarreal, where the Frenchman was given a more central attacking role than in previous games and thrived on the responsibility.

    "He has enough ability to show his level," Setien said. "The other day there was a moment of inspiration and the players who played on the inside and the threat on the outside were closely linked. Sergi Roberto helped and did things very well."

  • Setien gets Bartomeu backing, but Barca president expects Xavi back 'one day' Setien gets Bartomeu backing, but Barca president expects Xavi back 'one day'

    Josep Maria Bartomeu believes Xavi will become Barcelona boss one day, though he has given his support to current coach Quique Setien.

    Xavi, who holds the record for the most Barca appearances of all time, has long been linked with the top job at Camp Nou, where he spent 17 trophy-laden years as a player.

    He was considered one of the front-runners to take the post when Ernesto Valverde was sacked in January only to suggest he was not ready, which led Barca to turn to Setien.

    Xavi has since said he wants to be Barcelona coach and has been tipped to succeed the under-fire Setien, but on Sunday the ex-Barcelona midfielder signed a contract extension as coach of Qatari club Al-Sadd.

    And though the jury remains out on Setien given his side have fallen four points behind Real Madrid in LaLiga, Bartomeu has given him his backing.

    "Setien will continue, obviously," he told RAC1.

    "I do not regret Valverde's change. The team needed a boost. Setien knows our DNA, the model and has brought new airs and new ideas.

    "The coaches are obviously subject to the results, but I am happy with the evolution of the team."

    On Xavi's coaching credentials, Bartomeu added: "[Xavi is] a great coach who I am sure will one day come to Barca."

    Barca's poor form and infighting behind the scenes has again led to speculation that Lionel Messi could do the unthinkable and actually depart the club when his contract expires in 2021.

    Bartomeu has remained steadfast in his belief that the 33-year-old will retire with the Blaugrana and said the club will do all they can to extend his deal.

    "He has a contract until 2021 – normally we do not explain the conversations with the players but it is evident that we have an obligation to renew him," he said.

    "Messi is the best player in the world."

  • Barcelona signing Neymar 'unlikely' Barcelona signing Neymar 'unlikely'

    Neymar returning to Barcelona from Paris Saint-Germain is "unlikely", according to the LaLiga club's president Josep Maria Bartomeu.

    The Brazil forward left Camp Nou for the French capital in a world-record €222million deal back in 2017, but a return to Barcelona - where he won eight major trophies across four seasons - has long been mooted.

    However, Bartomeu thinks such a move would be hard to pull off in the current climate as Europe's elite clubs adjust their plans due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

    "Such an operation is unlikely because the situation of all the clubs in Europe is very difficult," Bartomeu told RAC 1.

    Yet there was no such dismissal when Bartomeu was asked about another forward in Lautaro Martinez.

    Lionel Messi's Argentina team-mate is said to have a €111m release clause in his contract, but that is thought to expire on Tuesday, and it has been reported Barca will not try to activate it before the deadline passes.

    Martinez, 22, has scored 17 times in 37 appearances for Inter this term and is under contract at San Siro until 2023.

    "I'm not talking about transfers," Bartomeu added when asked about Martinez.

    "We have not marked the signings in the calendar on when they should be."

    One man who will be joining Barcelona is midfielder Miralem Pjanic, who will move at the end of this season, with Arthur heading in the opposite direction to join Juventus.

    Though Pjanic is seven years older than Arthur and there are reports Barcelona looked to offload the Brazilian to balance the books, Bartomeu insists the new signing had been a long-term target.

    "Pjanic is a player who has wanted to sign for a long time, he was highly sought after and there is a Barca player who wants Juve," Bartomeu explained.

    "But it is an exceptional situation. It is not to balance balances because we would have sold other players for whom we had offers. Arthur is a player who is highly valued."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.