Jan 10, 2014, 9:58 PM EST
Barcelona got Lionel Messi back just in time.
The superstar returned from a long-term hamstring injury on Thursday, and it looked like he hadn’t missed a beat.
Thank goodness for Barcelona, because they’ll need the four-time Ballon d’Or winner come tomorrow, as they travel to the Vicente Calderon to face off against Atletico Madrid.
The pair are tied at the top of the La Liga on 49 points, with Barcelona only ahead on a 5-goal spread in differential.
The Catalan giants also get Neymar back from his gastroenteritis, having played 10 minutes in their last three matches.
These two squads faced off twice earlier in the year in the Supercopa, and while Barcelona won on away goals, Madrid did well to hold them to just one goal over the two matches. They sat back to defend and hit Barca on the break.
That will likely be their strategy this time around, and barring another duo sent off late (Arda Turan and Filipe were each sent off in the final 10 minutes of their 0-0 Supercopa draw), they could get more goals this time around.
Atletico manager Diego Simeone has experimented with a few different formations this season with smashing success. The loss of Falcao to Monaco a year ago has had a Ewing Theory affect on the squad, and Diego Costa has filled in with flying colors.
Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo get all the overseas headlines from La Liga, but it’s Costa’s 19 goals in 18 league matches that have Atletico planted in the top of the table. Add another nine from David Villa plus the best defensive record in the league (11 goals conceded in 18 matches), shake it all up, and you have the recipe for a pretty tasty La Liga season.
However, a loss to Barcelona would put a serious, serious dent in the title hopes of the Madrid faithful. Barcelona hardly falter elsewhere in the league (they have just a single loss to their name thus far), and those three points dropped to their competition would likely spell doom.
The hosts will be boosted by the knowledge that right-back Juanfran will be eligible to play. He was originally suspended due to yellow card accumulation, but a court of arbitration ruled that his fifth yellow was received due to acting by a Malaga player, and revoked the caution.
Nov 20, 2014, 3:55 PM EST
Gianluigi Buffon and Giorgio Chiellini are set to stay at Juventus with fresh deals.
Nov 20, 2014, 3:39 PM EST
Whelan: “I think Jewish people do chase money more than everybody else. I don’t think that’s offensive at all.”
Nov 20, 2014, 3:02 PM EST
Details on Geoff Cameron’s exciting new role with ProSoccerTalk.
Nov 20, 2014, 2:31 PM EST
Review of FIFA’s corruption report ordered, as Qatar, Russia scrutinized once again.
Nov 20, 2014, 1:32 PM EST
You get your say. After MLS held talks with cities in California, Nevada and Minnesota, is this the right move for the league?
Nov 20, 2014, 12:37 PM EST
Van Gaal confirms new issue is bothering Falcao.
Nov 20, 2014, 12:02 PM EST
Blind was ruled out for six months by United’s Twitter account… but there’s been a twist.
Nov 20, 2014, 10:54 AM EST
Here are the finalists for MLS 2014 awards. Agree? Disagree?
Nov 20, 2014, 9:46 AM EST
Could United pay a PL record fee for a defender?
Nov 20, 2014, 8:39 AM EST
Giroud back a month ahead of schedule to hand Gunners massive boost.
Nov 20, 2014, 8:05 AM EST
Cech set for a move to the Emirates in January according to reports.
Nov 20, 2014, 7:27 AM EST
Lampard’s loan to Man City could be extended.
Nov 19, 2014, 11:45 PM EST
Ugly scenes in the Ivory Coast.
Nov 19, 2014, 11:01 PM EST
Wow, I love the internet.
Nov 19, 2014, 10:21 PM EST
How would Jozy fair in the French league?
Nov 19, 2014, 9:45 PM EST
Making the argument for Neuer.
Nov 19, 2014, 8:59 PM EST
Ready yourself for the MLS Expansion Draft, slated for December 10th.
Nov 19, 2014, 8:01 PM EST
Dave Whelan, once again proving himself a dinosaur.
Nov 19, 2014, 7:05 PM EST
Meet uncle Kenny Wilshere, Trudy Mertesacker and Darren Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Nov 19, 2014, 6:21 PM EST
Dan Kennedy is heading to FC Dallas. See where all 7 players selected in today’s draft are heading.
- What to expect as USA, Premier League star Geoff Cameron joins ProSoccerTalk 0
- FIFA saga takes new twist: World Cup corruption report to be reviewed 0
- VOTE – Best choice for MLS expansion: Las Vegas, Sacramento or Minneapolis? 2
- Manchester United’s Radamel Falcao suffers new injury setback 0
- Mats Hummels to Manchester United rumors persist. Can it happen in January? 1
- Report: Arsenal have deal in place to sign Chelsea’s Petr Cech 1