Atletico Madrid must stop Barcelona trident - Diego Simeone
Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone says containing Barcelona's superstar trio will be key to Saturday's huge top of La Liga game at the Camp Nou.
Both Barca and Atletico go into the game locked together on 48 points, although Luis Enrique's men have played a game less, with Real Madrid four points back in third place.
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Blaugrana talisman Lionel Messi came off the bench to score the winner in a 2-1 victory in early September's first meeting this season, after Neymar had earlier scored a superb free kick to cancel out Fernando Torres' opener.
Atletico were surprisingly eliminated from the Copa del Rey on Wednesday, when their usually watertight defence shipped three goals at home to Celta Vigo, and the Colchoneros coach told his pre-game news conference that watching these two -- and fellow South American superstar Luis Suarez -- would be vital to his side's chances.
"Their three forwards have a really high level, that means our concentration and attention must be very high for the 90 minutes," Simeone said. "The arrival of Suarez has strengthened the whole system. Barca are the best team in the world. It is marvellous that there is no envy among the three, they are happy, healthy people, there is usually jealousies, egos, but there it is just the opposite."
Atletico's last La Liga game was a 0-0 draw at home to Sevilla and Simeone accepted that -- top scorer Antoine Griezmann apart -- the team's other forwards (including summer signings Jackson Martinez and Luciano Vietto) have not been up to expectations so far this season.
"We have the same expectations as before of all the forwards except for Griezmann," he said. "The others are scoring very few goals. At some moment the run will change. I view the team the same as always. We are in a good position in La Liga, we were justly beaten by Celta in the Copa del Rey, and we have our chance in the Champions League. We are on this demanding path coming into very important games. I hope we see that tomorrow."
Torres has recently been sidelined by a niggling muscle problem, amid speculation that his second spell at the Calderon could be about to end, bringing disappointment from some Atletico fans who still remember his brilliant first period at the club.
"There is no division among Atleticos, or between Simeone and Torres," the Argentine coach said. "Both are loved unconditionally. The fans want Atletico to win. The fans have not stopped loving Luis Aragones and he is not here any more. Nor Kiko, who has stopped playing. Idols like Torres are loved forever. Today I am cheered, tomorrow if things go badly maybe not, but that does not take away the affection and the love."
Simeone had praise for Arda Turan, who after four successful years at Atletico moved to Barcelona for €41 million last summer, and could face his former teammates in Saturday's game.
"[Arda] is a player who gave everything for us and who we love a lot," he said. "A man always faithful to our work and we have great memories of him. I am happy he has arrived at Barca, that is because we did good work."