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Barca travel to Atleti in 'critical condition' ahead of key clash

Barca travel to Atleti in 'critical condition' ahead of key clash

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Champions League - Group E - Benfica v FC Barcelona - Estadio da Luz, Lisbon, Portugal - September 29, 2021 FC Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman looks dejected REUTERS/Pedro Nunes/File Photo

MADRID : LaLiga crisis club Barcelona travel to Atletico Madrid on Saturday in a key game for under-pressure coach Ronald Koeman.

The Catalans have won one of their last five matches in all competitions and were humbled 3-0 at Benfica in the Champions League on Wednesday. Local media suggest a defeat in the capital could spell the end of Koeman's time in charge.

Barca are five points off pacesetters Real Madrid, albeit with a game in hand, and captain Sergio Busquets believes the players must take their share of the blame for the difficult situation the team find themselves in.

"At the end of the day, sacking the coach would be the easy thing to do," Busquets said. "But we are all responsible. We're in critical condition to be honest."

Meanwhile, Koeman said he feels the players are still playing for him but added that he was unsure if that was the case with the club's heirarchy.

"I can only give you my opinion on the job I'm doing with the players and I feel backed by them and their attitude," said the Dutchman.

"The club, I don't know (if that's the case). I can't talk too much about my future as I don't know how the club is thinking about it - it's not in my hands."

Koeman is likely to be without left back Jordi Alba for the trip to fourth-placed Atleti, who Barca could overtake with a win, as well as long-term forward absentees Sergio Aguero, Martin Braithwaite and Ousmane Dembele.

Real Madrid visit lowly Espanyol on Sunday and will be hoping to bounce back themselves following a shock 2-1 Champions League home defeat by Moldovan minnows Sheriff.

Second-placed Real Sociedad, who are a point off the pace, visit bottom side Getafe later on Sunday with a chance to go top should Madrid fail to win and they get all three points.

(Reporting by Joseph Walker; Editing by Ken Ferris)

Source: Reuters

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