Antoine Griezmann is ready to lead the Atletico Madrid attack when Los Colochoneros host Barcelona on Wednesday night (1 February) for the first leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final. However, Diego Simeone faces some selection headaches elsewhere with Jan Oblak, Tiago, Augusto Fernandez, Jose María Gimenez, Thomas and Alessio Cerci all left out of his 18-man squad due to various issues.
Atletico Madrid and Barcelona have faced off numerous times across all competitions in recent seasons, with Los Colchoneros beating the Catalans to clinch the La Liga title in the 2013-14 season while also knocking them out of the Champions League quarter-finals last term.
But Simeone's side arrive to this Copa del Rey double-header under scrutiny following an inconsistent first half of the campaign. Atletico have been held to draws in their last three games and sit fourth in La Liga, behind Real Madrid, Barcelona and Sevilla.
Summer signings such as Kevin Gameiro and Nico Gaitan have failed to make the impact expected, while the injury situation has not helped Simeone cope with a hectic fixture schedule.
Griezmann, who has netted five goals in his last seven games, is thus Atletico Madrid's biggest hope of beating Barcelona and reaching the Copa del Rey final. Either Yannick Ferreira Carrasco or Fernando Torres are expected to partner the Frenchman in the attack, but Simeone has more problems in his midfield.
Gabi, who returns from suspension, Saul Niguez and Koke are still available to face Barcelona, but the Argentine boss has been forced to promoted 19-year-old Keidi Bare from the second team to have enough bodies on his bench.
Tiago and Augusto remain on the sidelines while Thomas is still away in the Africa Cup of Nations. Furthermore, Gimenez, who has played in the holding role in recent games to cope with those injuries, has been ruled out for up to a month after suffering a muscle blow during the weekend draw with Alaves.
Furthermore, back-up keeper Miguel Angel Moya will have to be the number one for the visit of Barcelona as Oblak is yet to play a game since suffering an injury in the 3-0 defeat to Villarreal on 12 December.
However, Barcelona boss Luis Enrique has also his own problems as both Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets will miss the trip to Madrid due to injuries.