Friday, January 10, 2014

Atletico Madrid-Barcelona Preview: La Liga's top two clash at the Calderon

Barcelona team-mates Lionel Messi (L) and Adrian

La Liga's top two meet in an eagerly anticipated match at the Vicente Calderon on Saturday as Atletico Madrid host champions Barcelona.

Gerardo Martino's men are top of the table on goal difference and their opponents this weekend have displayed marginally better recent form in the league.

The Rojiblancos have taken maximum points from their last five Liga games, keeping four clean sheets and seeing striker Diego Costa score six goals in the process.

Barca suffered their only domestic defeat of the season to date when losing 1-0 to Athletic Bilbao at the start of December, but have bounced back by taking nine points from nine since then and are boosted by Lionel Messi's return from a hamstring injury.

Messi scored twice after coming on as a second-half substitute in a 4-0 Copa del Rey win over Getafe on Wednesday, and will be looked upon to play a key role against Atletico.

In the last 20 years, Atletico and Barca have met as the sides ranked first and second in the table on only three occasions, with the men from Spain's capital winning two of those meetings.

Barca claimed the Supercopa de Espana when the teams last faced off, triumphing on away goals following a 0-0 draw in the second leg at Camp Nou.

Prior to the first leg of that tie in Madrid - which finished 1-1 - the Catalan giants had won their last six games against Atletico.

In addition to welcoming back Messi, Barca are also expected to have Neymar available following a bout of gastroenteritis, meaning Pedro and Alexis Sanchez are expected to vie for the other spot in attack.

Defender Diego Godin is a doubt for Diego Simeone's men after picking up a thigh problem against Valencia in the Copa del Rey on Tuesday, while Mario Suarez (knee) is also likely to miss out.

Atletico Madrid-Barcelona Preview: La Liga's top two clash at the Calderon Rating: 4.5 Posted by: Unknown


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