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February 26, 2012 8:30 PM GMT
Estadio Vicente Calderón — Madrid
Referee:‬ Miguel Pérez‎
Attendance:‬ 40000‎
Daniel Alves 36′
Messi 81′

Atletico Madrid - Barcelona Preview: Lionel Messi seeks third hat-trick in a row against Diego Simeone's side

The Argentine forward has astonishing recent history with the capital club and hopes to extend it as Pep Guardiola's side aim to keep title hopes alive at the Vicente Calderon

By Martin Macdonald

Liga BBVA: Barcelona-Valencia: Lionel Mess, Christian Tello



Juanfran, Miranda, Godin, Filipe
Tiago, Gabi
Arda, Adrian, Koke



Alves, Pique, Puyol, Abidal
Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta
Messi, Fabregas, Sanchez

Diego Simeone will be without the services of Brazilian playmaker Diego, who has been ruled out for a month. However, Arda Turan returned from injury to feature from the bench in the Europa League victory over Lazio on Thursday.

Radamel Falcao was rested from the starting XI in midweek but the prolific Colombian will return to starting line-up for the game against Barca.

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola's only two injuries to deal with are long-term absentees Ibrahim Afellay and David Villa, who are both still unavailable but are beginning to work out in the gym as they attempt to recuperate.

The Catalan side were outstanding in their last match against Valencia, so it is unlikely that much tinkering will be made. However, Xavi is fully fit again and Dani Alves returns from his suspension, so expect the duo to return to the starting XI.


  • Atletico are unbeaten in their last seven matches in La Liga (3-4-0), keeping a clean sheet in six of those fixtures.
  • Radamel Falcao has scored 19 goals in 29 appearances for Atlético in all competitions this season, which includes two hat-tricks in La Liga.
  • Atletico have kept 11 clean sheets this season - only Barcelona have more with 12.
  • The last time that Barcelona lost back-to-back away matches in La Liga was in April-May 2008, 2-0 at Deportivo La Coruna and 4-1 at Real Madrid.
  • Lionel Messi has scored 14 league goals against Atletico, including two hat-tricks in his last two encounters with Los Rojiblancos.
  • Barça have lost only one of the 94 league matches in which Messi has scored (85-8-1) - which was against Atletico Madrid (4-3) on March 1 2009.

Field Report
Reader's Predictions
Top 3 Predictions
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Last Five Matches
Team News
Available Squads
13Thibaut CourtoisGoalkeeper
2Diego GodínDefender
3Filipe LuisDefender
10Arda TuranMidfielder
9Radamel FalcaoStriker
25Sergio AsenjoGoalkeeper
15Álvaro DomínguezDefender
14L. PereaDefender
4Mario SuárezMidfielder
18Toto SalvioMidfielder
12Paulo AssunçaoMidfielder
1Víctor ValdésGoalkeeper
22Daniel AlvesDefender
5Carles PuyolDefender
22Éric AbidalDefender
4Cesc FàbregasMidfielder
8Andrés Iniesta LujánMidfielder
14Javier MascheranoMidfielder
9Alexis SánchezStriker
13José Pinto ColoradoGoalkeeper
6Thiago AlcántaraMidfielder
-Seydou KeitaMidfielder
Players to Watch
Radamel Falcao
Radamel Falcao
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 9
Games Goals YC RC
0 0 0 0
The Colombian was given a rest from the starting XI in midweek so he will be fresh for the tough test against Barca. Expect him to use his physical attributes to cause some hustle and bustle in the penalty area. A real danger for Guardiola's side.
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 10
Games Goals YC RC
27 26 1 0
Lionel Messi showed last weekend why he is the Ballon d'Or holder. A fantastic four-goal tally against Valencia capped a performance of the very highest order. If he is in this type of form in this match, then Atletico must be afraid.
This game has the potential to be a very tight affair. Atletico have been watertight at the back since Diego Simeone's appointment but they have not yet faced a side with the attacking quality of Barca. The Catalan side were impeccable against Valencia, scoring an impressive five goals against Unai Emery's outfit, but their away form has been poor this season. Barcelona may just sneak a narrow win at the Vicente Calderon.
Editor's Prediction
Top Scorers
Player   Goals Penalties
C. Ronaldo C. Ronaldo
Real Madrid
28 6
Diego Costa Diego Costa
Atl. Madrid
27 5
Messi Messi
26 6
Karim Benzema Karim Benzema
Real Madrid
17 0
Alexis Sánchez Alexis Sánchez
17 0