Barcelona’s Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring the first goal during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between FC Barcelona and Elche at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, ​​Spain, Wednesday February 24, 2021 (AP Photo / Joan Monfort) AP

FC Barcelona will meet on Sunday the 21st March 2021 (210321) in a La Liga game at Anoeta in San Sebastian, Spain, on Real Sociedad

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It wasn’t long ago that everything seemed to be going to Atlético Madrid It was the team to beat and they had a comfortable lead at the top with no signs of catching

Barcelona, ​​meanwhile, struggled on and off the field, enduring political turmoil and seeing lackluster results with no signs of a return to the top

But the clubs enter the final phase of the season in conflicting situations, with Atlético collapsing and Barcelona gaining momentum

Both teams were eliminated in the Champions League round of 16, but Barcelona have won the league four times in a row, while Atlético have only recorded two wins in their last six games

The Catalan club were within four points ahead of Atlético ahead of the weekend games when Atlético hosted Alavés, threatened with relegation, on Sunday and Barcelona later visit fifth place at Real Sociedad Defending champions Real Madrid are six points ahead of the lead and remain in competition, although its focus is split on the Champions League

After the weekend there will be 10 league games for each team, with Atlético aiming for their first title since 2014 and Barcelona their third in four seasons. The Catalan club will host Atlético in May

Barcelona, ​​with a new president after several months of political turmoil, were eliminated by Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League despite having played well in the second leg a week ago. Atlético was ousted by Chelsea on Wednesday after scoring both Had lost legs

“Our fans must be upset and disappointed,” said Atlético coach Diego Simeone. “But we have to reset and think about what lies ahead. We have to learn and improve and keep going with the same dedication and enthusiasm”

Simeone had to answer questions on Wednesday about Luis Suárez, who had led the team after his move from Barcelona this season but was upset after being substituted at the start of the second half in London

“It’s normal that he wanted to keep playing,” said Simeone. “We felt we could improve the dynamics of the attack, so we made the change”

Atlético’s struggles coincided with some COVID-19 cases within the team and the absence of some players due to injuries and suspensions, Simeone had to experiment with different tactical formations and the team did not adapt quickly to the normally strong defenses stalled and stalled At some point the team had to accept the worst goals conceded since Simeone almost a decade ago

The league is the only title that Atlético can still win this season, while Barcelona are still in the Copa del Rey, where it will play in the final on 17 April against Athletic Bilbao goes Barcelona last season for the first time since 2007/08 without a title

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