Barcelona face another tough test in the form of Atletico Madrid

Slipping down to fourth place in La Liga, Barcelona recognize the importance of picking up a win at home against Atletico Madrid
FC Barcelona v FC Porto: Group H - UEFA Champions League 2023/24
FC Barcelona v FC Porto: Group H - UEFA Champions League 2023/24 / David Ramos/GettyImages

The win against Porto midweek in the Champions League may not have been the most convincing for Barcelona, but they need to carry some of that momentum over to La Liga when they host Atletico Madrid on Sunday.

Atletico Madrid are perhaps the most in-form team of La Liga despite sitting in third place. Cholo Simeone has his side playing good football to go along with a return to form of the defense. For Barcelona, it will be imperative to try to pick up a win if they want to leap over Atletico in the standings and to not fall further behind of Real Madrid and Girona.

"Simeone's teams are always difficult to play against," Xavi said in his pre-match press conference. "Each day I have more respect and admiration for Cholo. For all that he has done. So many years at a big club... he has changed the history of the club and has a lot of merit. He has adapted to the players that he has. At the moment he has a lot of technical players, a more attacking team, both things."

Jude Bellingham may be taking all the plaudits but Antoine Griezmann has his own claim to the best player in La Liga. He has returned to form in his second stint with Atletico Madrid. The former Barcelona player is the engine that makes Atletico run and best embodies what Simeone wants from his forwards. Keeping him quiet is going to be an arduous task for a leaky Barcelona defense.

One of the things Barcelona wants to carry over from the Porto win is the support from the fans in the stadium.

"We are playing at home and we need the fans. It's really important for people to come up to Montjuic, to support us so we can put in a good performance," Xavi said. "It's only three points but they are direct rivals for trophies this season."

Despite what Xavi said, it's not "only three points."

The Catalan side has dropped too many points early on in the season and are already staring at three teams ahead of them in the league standings. Tied for third with Atletico Madrid -- with Atletico having a game in hand -- a win would put them ahead of Los Colchoneros.

Against tougher opponents, Barcelona has struggled. They played a good hour or so against Real Madrid but ended up losing. They were fortunate and practically stole a win away to Real Sociedad. The lack of identity has been a constant point of criticism aimed towards Xavi.

Next. Marc-Andre ter Stegen a doubt for Atletico Madrid clash. Marc-Andre ter Stegen a doubt for Atletico Madrid clash. dark

There were some bright spots against Porto but they're going to need more than a few good minutes here and there if they want to pick up three points against Atletico Madrid.