Simeone: Barcelona are best in the world

The Blaugrana were routed by Bayern Munich in the semi-finals of the Champions League but the Rojiblancos boss still believes that Catalans are a cut above the the rest
Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone has labelled Barcelona "the best team in the world" ahead of the two sides' Liga meeting on Sunday night.

Real Madrid's 1-1 draw with Espanyol on Saturday handed the Catalans their fourth Spanish title in five seasons, but some pundits have suggested that the Blaugrana are not the side they once were, particularly in light of their embarrassing 7-0 aggregate defeat to Bayern Munich in the semi-finals of this year's Champions League.

However, as far as Simeone is concerned, Barcelona remain the dominant force in the global game and he is viewing their visit to the Vicente Calderon as the perfect preparation for not only his side's Copa del Rey final clash with the Blancos, but also next season's European campaign.

"There is no better way to get ready for a cup final than to face the best team in the world," the Argentine is quoted as saying by Marca.

"When you meet the best, that is a good thing. And tomorrow we take on the best of the lot.

"We are lucky enough here to see the best teams. Barcelona is a tremendous side, certainly the best in recent years. If we want to be competitive, what better way than to test ourselves against them?

"Next year [in the Champions League] we shall be doing this all the time - playing against big sides continually."

Consequently, Simeone intends to field a full-strength line-up against Barca, even though they face city rivals Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu on Friday.

"We shall be picking a competitive team, to make a good game of it," the former midfield terrier declared.

"There is a very important cup final on Friday, but there is also a big game tomorrow [Sunday], and we are responsible for playing it properly and continuing to make progress."

Atletico's clash with Barca in the Spanish capital is scheduled to get under way at 19:00CET.