Tor­res rel­ish­ing Barca show­down

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

FER­NANDO Tor­res be­lieves Atletico Madrid trav­elled to Barcelona to­day at just the right time af­ter em­phat­i­cally bounc­ing back with three wins over the past week. The show­down is the first ma­jor clash of the La Liga sea­son, but de­spite their free-scor­ing form, both sides face the prospect of be­ing cut adrift from league lead­ers Real Madrid even at this early stage.

“It’s a good time to visit Barcelona,” Tor­res said af­ter net­ting twice in Atletico’s 5-0 thrash­ing of Sport­ing Gi­jon on Septem­ber 17.

“It seems like they are play­ing as we have be­come ac­cus­tomed to. They are the most dif­fi­cult op­po­nent we have faced in the last few years with­out a doubt and we know how dif­fi­cult it will be.

“But when you are win­ning and play­ing well it al­ways gives you that lit­tle more con­fi­dence.”

Atletico scored 10 times and kept three clean sheets in see­ing off Celta Vigo, PSV Eind­hoven and Sport­ing in eight days.

How­ever, they al­ready trail city ri­vals Real by four points af­ter dis­ap­point­ing draws against Alaves and Le­ganes to open the cam­paign.

“We just needed to find the goals be­cause we have been con­sis­tent in the way we have played de­spite the two draws in the first two games,” added Tor­res.

“The team is con­fi­dent and now we have the tough­est game we have had un­til now.”

De­spite dump­ing Barca out of the Cham­pi­ons League twice in the past three years, Atletico haven’t won at the Camp Nou since Tor­res scored twice in a 3-1 vic­tory dur­ing his first stint at the club in 2006.

Barca also hit five at the week­end against newly pro­moted Le­ganes to back up their 7-0 ham­mer­ing of Celtic in the Cham­pi­ons League with Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar scor­ing 10 times in their first two starts of the sea­son to­gether up front.

How­ever, a shock home de­feat to Alaves ear­lier this month leaves Luis En­rique’s men three points be­hind Real in the ti­tle race.

Both sides will make changes hav­ing ro­tated at the week­end.

En­rique will re­call Sergi Roberto and Ser­gio Bus­quets, with the only doubt for the hosts whether Sa­muel Umtiti or Javier Mascher­ano ac­com­pa­nies Ger­ard Pique at the heart of the de­fence.

The rested Gabi and Juan­fran are ex­pected to re­turn for Atletico in place of Ni­co­las Gai­tan and Sime Vr­saljko.

Mean­while, Real can ex­tend their lead at the top and set a La Liga record with a 17th straight win at home to Vil­lar­real to­day.

Cris­tiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale missed the Septem­ber 18 2-0 win at Es­panyol due to ill­ness and in­jury, re­spec­tively. How­ever, both re­turned to train­ing on Septem­ber 19 and are ex­pected to start.

The week­end vic­tory saw Real set a new club record for con­sec­u­tive league wins and match the 16 straight wins Barcelona man­aged un­der Pep Guardi­ola in 2010-11.

Vil­lar­real, though, are un­beaten in the league this sea­son as backto-back wins have taken the Yel­low Sub­ma­rine up to sixth af­ter a tu­mul­tuous pre-sea­son, with coach Marcelino sacked just days be­fore the cam­paign got un­der way.

Photo: AFP

Atletico Madrid for­ward Fer­nando Tor­res takes a penalty shot against Real Sport­ing de Gi­jon on Septem­ber 17. He scored, on Atletico’s way to a 5-0 vic­tory.

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