Barcelona (FCB).- If ever there was a game for FC Barcelona to demonstrate that they are still in the hunt for the Spanish League title, it has to be tonight’s clash with Atlético Madrid at the Vicente Calderón stadium (21.30 CET). After looking to be back at their best in last week’s 5-1 win over Valencia, Pep Guardiola’s team are keen to reproduce that form on the road and show that even though they are 10 points adrift of Real Madrid, they intend to keep fighting till the very end to retain their La Liga title.
Plenty of time to prepare
For the first time this season, the Barça squad have enjoyed a whole week without a game and after a two day break, they have been able to spend four days since Wednesday preparing for the trip to the Spanish capital. Guardiola can call on a full squad, with the exception of long term injury victims, Villa, Afellay and Fontàs, and all 18 will make the trip, together with B team forward Cristian Tello. Alves and Mascherano are back for the game after missing last week’s win because of suspension.
Busy week for Simeone’s side
It’s been a busier week for Diego Simeone’s side, who beat Lazio 1-0 on Thursday to book a place in the last 16 of the Europa Cup and the Argentinean has Arda Turan doubtful with a muscle strain, whilst Adrián and Salvio are also in the squad despite both suffering some problems over the last few days.
Tradition of goals and excitement
The history of the fixture promises plenty of excitement and goals, with 153 having been scored between the two in the last 20 years at an average of more than four goals a game. Plenty of that is down to Leo Messi, who has scored 17 times against Atlético –who haven’t lost since Simeone took over at Christmas- and this Sunday’s game (21.30 CET) should see a fascinating duel between the world’s number one player and the hosts’ own star striker Falcao, who’s scored 14 league goals so far this season.