Madrid: Atletico Madrid have a great opportunity to show their La Liga title challenge is to be taken seriously this season when an under-strength Barcelona visit the Vicente Calderon on Saturday.
Both sides took the maximum six points from their opening two league fixtures last month, but it is Atletico after a summer of heavy investment in the transfer market that have looked the more impressive.
Diego Simeone’s men won 3-0 at Sevilla last time out and are at full-strength as left-back Filipe Luis has recovered from the hamstring problem that kept him out the trip to the Sanchez Pizjuan.
“Although they have some players out the Barca squad is practically the same as last year, they have plenty of options to choose from and they are favourites for every match,” said Luis. “We have the advantage of playing at home and I am sure it will be a great, hard and intense game. We have a lot of confidence and we need to continue in the same way as the previous two games where we have won and not conceded a goal.”
By contrast, Barcelona are likely to be without three first team regulars as Dani Alves and Claudio Bravo miss out through injury, whilst Gerard Pique is suspended unless a last minute appeal to Spain’s administrative court for sport is successful. Pique endured a testing time during the international break as he was booed by sections of the home support during Spain’s 2-0 win over Slovakia after mocking Real Madrid.