Piqué celebra amb Messi un dels gols marcats al Nuevo Arcángel / FOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB

The Camp Nou will be witness to a clash of titans tonight.  Barça, top of the league table thanks to the best ever start to a campaign in the history of La Liga, welcomes to the Camp Nou the best Atletico Madrid since they did the double.  Diego Simeone’s team is second in the table, six points behind Barça and also enjoying successful campaigns in the Cup and the Europa League.  Tonight, Barça will have the chance to widen the gap between first and second to 9 points.  A true battle of giants with different but highly effective styles.

Messi v Falcao

Barca will play in their usual trademark attacking style and try to dominate possession.  It’s the best way of keeping Columbian striker Radamel Falcao away from the goal area, the natural habitat of this instinctive goal scorer.  The duel between Falcao and Leo Messi will be one of the highlights of the match.  They have different styles but both combine a killer instinct in front of goal with hugely competitive characters.  For Messi, it will be another opportunity to increase his record-breaking tally of goals scored in one calendar year.  With 18 goals in 15 matches, Atletico is one of the Argentine’s favoured victims.

For the team as a whole, it is also a chance to extend their historic start to the league season.  But they’ll have to do it without Cesc Fàbregas, who picked up an injury last week against Betis.  Precisely who will come in for Cesc is the main doubt in the Barça line-up.

Strong and consistent

Simeone has turned Atletico into a tightly organized and professional outfit.  They have a 100% record in the Calderón and have dropped just 8 points away from home.  While Falcao is the main danger man, Atletico boast plenty more attacking threats such as Diego Costa and Adrián, though doubts remain about the latter’s fitness.  Cristian Rodríguez will definitely not play.