Barcelona vs Atlético Madrid Match Preview
After two points missed away to Valencia, Barcelona absolutely need to wake up and be in control of their situation with a win over Atletico Madrid.
Barcelona have not managed to impose themselves in their last league games.
Four places may be separating Barca and Madrid, but there is only a point between them. The Catalans were not able to jump in the table’s Top Three after they collected a single point at the Mestalla on Wednesday. They maintain their fourth position though, while Atletico Madrid climbed to eighth in midweek following their 4-0 triumph over Sporting Gijon.
Considering the tight placements in the standings, a defeat for Pep’s boys would drastically affect their run and possibly prevent them from competing as strong contenders for La Liga title this season. For Atletico, any positive result would not only give them a huge boost of confidence ahead of their subsequent league game against Sevilla, but also would it push them two points ahead of the defending champions.
Radamel Falcao will be challenged by the experienced Barcelona defence at the Camp Nou. The Colombian striker left Europa League title holders FC Porto to join Atletico for €40 million, and thus missed the Portuguese club’s encounter against Los Cules in the UEFA Super Cup. Saturday evening will see him face the European champions for the first time this year; however, he could well go for a special achievement.
Falcao has been in perfect shape recently, scoring six times in his last three games in La Liga and in Europe. The player netted one goal against Celtic in the Europa League last Thursday, then scored a hat-trick three days later in a 4-0 victory against Racing Santander, and then snatched a double in midweek against Sporting.
"He's a great goalscorer for our fans to enjoy and for Spanish football,” said Coach Gregorio Manzano who praised the Colombian.
"I'm sure that he's going to be rubbing shoulders with the great goalscorers of our league like Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.”
Speaking of line-ups, there is good news for Barcelona concerning Gerard Pique. The defender has been given the green light to perform against Atletico Madrid. Pique had not played a match for the Catalans since the Spanish Super Cup’s second leg against Real Madrid due to a hamstring injury.
Dutchman Ibrahim Afellay will nevertheless miss the game with ripped cruciate ligaments in his left knee - and Alexis Sanchez and Andres Iniesta both join him in the list of unavailable players. For the Castellans, the presence of Diego is still doubtable, but the return of Diego Godin should keep them in shape for their battle at the Nou Camp.
Pep Guardiola (press conference): “Fans will see a fantastic football match. […] (Atletico Madrid) they play very good football and not just on the counter attack. They have made good signings and can play well in all positions”.
Gregorio Manzano (press conference): “Barcelona are the favourites, but we are going for the three points.”
Barcelona vs Atlético Madrid Match Report
Lionel Messi emulated Cristiano Ronaldo by clinching a hat-trick tonight as Barcelona wowed the public at the Camp Nou yet again.
Lionel Messi has taken his goal tally to 8 in La Liga.
Atletico Madrid had absolutely no chance of stealing points from the Catalans on Saturday night. Like Barca, Atletico played with a 4-3-3 formation. Falcao, Reyes and Diego led the front line but their combination couldn’t match the class of Lionel Messi.
At the other end of the field for the visitors, goalkeeper Courtois endured a total nightmare. David Villa put Barcelona in front against the run of play after just 9 minutes. From there, Atletico Madrid got lost. Lionel Messi tricked Miranda into an own goal 6 minutes later.
Midway through the first period, La Pulga scored his first of the match to create an impressive record: scoring against 50 different goalkeepers since the start of his professional career.
Cesc Fabregas nearly made it 4-0 before half-time, but the scoring sheet was left for Messi to add 2 more strikes. Barcelona are looking invincible at the Camp Nou. With tonight’s victory over Atletico Madrid, the Catalans have created an average of 6 goals per game on home soil in La Liga.