The Numbers Game: Barca must be wary of Griezmann in mouthwatering Metropolitano showdown

Barcelona have been beaten without scoring a goal in their past two trips to Atletico Madrid and could find themselves off the top of LaLiga if they suffer more misery in the capital on Sunday.

A fiery 1-1 draw with Espanyol on New Year's Eve left Barca level on points with Real Madrid at the summit in what is shaping up to be an enthralling title race.

Xavi's side travel to the Metropolitano for their first LaLiga game of the year on the back of a Copa del Rey scare, avoiding an upset by beating third-tier Intercity 4-3 after extra time.

Fourth-placed Atleti have secured back-to-back 2-0 wins and will be looking for a third consecutive home victory over the Blaugrana in the top flight.

With Carlo Ancelotti's men travelling to Villarreal a day earlier, Barca may need a win against Atletico to go back to the top of the table and they will be without the suspended Robert Lewandowski.

Stats Perform pick out the standout Opta numbers to preview the big game.

Barca hoping for same story in New Year

This will be the fifth time Barca have faced Atleti in their first game of a calendar year.

If history is anything to go by, the Catalan giants could be heading home with all three points in the bank as they have not lost in all four of the previous such meetings.

Barca beat Atleti in their first league games in 1930, 1951 and 1989, with the other encounter ending in a draw.

If looking that far back is not for you, Barca have been in excellent recent form on the road – winning 12 of their past 14 away games in LaLiga, with just one defeat.


Griezmann to return to haunt Barca?

In-form forward Antoine Griezmann is set to face Barca for the first time since he made a permanent move from Camp Nou to Atleti in October.

The France international endured a disappointing spell with the Blaugrana, but is very much at home again under Diego Simeone.

After some outstanding World Cup displays in Qatar, Griezmann has provided three assists in two matches back on club duty – the latest being a sublime first-time cushioned pass to set up Marcos Llorente in the 2-0 Copa del Rey defeat of Real Oviedo on Wednesday.

A revitalised Griezmann has been involved in 10 LaLiga goals for the Rojiblancos this season – five goals and as many assists. That is three more than he managed from 29 appearances in the competition in the 2021-22 campaign.

Antoine Griezmann was France's chief creator in Qatar
Antoine Griezmann was France's chief creator in Qatar

Dembele delivering for Xavi

Ousmane Dembele continues to show why Barca were so eager to keep him after his contract expired at the end of last season.

The France winger scored his eighth goal of Xavi's reign in a thrilling cup tie against Intercity.

Dembele has racked up 20 assists since Xavi was appointed in November 2021, giving him the most goal involvements for Barca during the head coach's tenure.


Joao Felix catching the eye in shop window

Joao Felix continues to be linked with a move, Manchester United among the clubs linked with the wantaway Atletico forward.

He has clearly not been affected by uncertainty over his future, scoring in three consecutive LaLiga games for the first time during his Atleti career.

The Portugal international has found the back of the net four times in his past three LaLiga matches, while he also struck against Ghana in the World Cup.