Espanyol are like Atletico, says Martino

The Blaugrana won 1-0 in the first meeting between the two sides back in November, with the Argentine expecting a similarly tight encounter this weekend
Gerardo Martino has likened Espanyol's high pressing game to that of title rivals Atletico Madrid ahead of Barcelona's clash with their local rivals on Saturday.

The Blaugrana recorded a narrow 1-0 win over Javier Aguirre's side in the first meeting between the two sides back in November.

Four months later and Barca are firmly in the title race as a result of back to back victories over Real Madrid and Celta Vigo and trail leaders Atletico by just a point going into the weekend.

"In Espanyol I see a team like Atletico Madrid," said Martino. "They're very solid, they press very hard off the ball - every game against them is difficult and that sets up a good game.

"It will be a very tight and complex game as it was in the first encounter which we struggled to win. They may attack us even more which could cause us problems. 

"They have an exceptional player in Sergio Garcia. He has the ability to unbalance any defence and we will have to be very careful."

Martino then refused to confirm whether midfielder Andres Iniesta would feature from the start on Saturday as he looks to keep his squad fresh for the run-in.

"We have spoken to Andres a lot and he is in the squad, but we cannot rule out rotating our players. We will play the team we consider to be the best."