FC Barcelona vs. Atletico Madrid: Great rivalry, huge contrast

Xavi has met Atlético Madrid coach Diego Simeone ten times during his playing career at FC Barcelona. Now the two meet for the first time as coaches on the sidelines. A duel that harbors great rivalry.

The LaLiga game on Sunday (from 4:15 p.m. in the live ticker) between FC Barcelona and Atlético Madrid will be the tenth for Xavi Hernádenz as head coach in the Spanish upper house. His opposite number Diego Simeone is facing his 386th game in the Primera División – a big contrast.

But what Xavi lacks in experience, he wants to make up for with his inherent ambition. The duel against the hot-blooded Simeone promises great emotions. And since Atlético is fourth in the table with just one point ahead of pursuers Barca in the duel between champion and cup winner, there is a lot at stake.

Both clubs need the three points in the fight for qualification for the Champions League.

Two very different philosophies

The top game also promises excitement because of the tactics, as Xavi and Simeone are two very different coaches facing each other. The Barca icon relies on his team for ball possession, the route is always offensive. “El Cholo”, on the other hand, leaves the game equipment to the opponent and relies on quick switching after winning the ball.

A statement by the now 42-year-old from 2016 shows how much Xavi contrasts with Simeone’s style: “I don’t like teams that put themselves in the back,” he said at the time at “Universo Valdano” and added: ” That shouldn’t be the approach a big club should have.”

Simeone then felt compelled to defend his strategy at a press conference: “I respect all opinions, after all there isn’t just one way in the world of football. I’m just looking for the opportunity to get the best out of my players . I just want to win, not please the others.”

Barcelona misses the goal against Atlético

In view of the large differences, a direct comparison of the two coaches is eagerly awaited. As players, Xavi and Simeone have never faced each other in a LaLiga match, despite both being signed to their clubs at the same time.

When Xavi challenged the capital club with Barca between 2003 and 2004 – when Simeone was at Atleti – the Argentinean was stewing on the bench.

Incidentally, as a coach, Simeone’s statistics against the player Xavi are negative. Atlético won only one of ten games, five ended in a draw.

And yet “El Cholo” should travel to Barcelona on Sunday with a broad chest: the Catalans won a total of 15 of the 31 games in which Simeone was on the sidelines for Atlético. However, Atlético has not lost any of their last five meetings against their rivals.

Also: Barcelona have not scored in any of the last three league duels – which once again underlines the defensive strength of the Simeone team. Xavi also wants to change that with his offensive spirit.


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