This Sunday, Barcelona travel to Madrid and the Estadio Vicente Calderon to face Atlético Madrid in what of late has been a fairly rough match for the blaugrana. The only league loss of the last campaign took place there, the previous year the squad lost 4-3, and year before was 4-2. That is, in reality, meaningless to this year's squad, but it does suggest that Atléti is a stronger squad at home than you might think. In those two years, when Atléti visited the Camp Nou, they lost 5-2, 6-1, and 3-0.
The last time Barcelona beat Atléti at the Camp Nou was when the colchoneros fielded a team consisting of Ivan Pichu, Giourkas Seitaridis, Antonio López, Ze Castro, Fabiano Eller, Martin Petrov, Peter Luccin, Luciano Galletti, Maniche, Jose Jurado, and Fernando Torres. And yeah, Barça beat that team 0-6, but only Valdes, Puyol, Xavi, Messi, and some substitute named Iniesta are still in the squad today.
But again, Barcelona can earn 3 points from this match. There's always that distinct possibility when you field the talent available at Barça. The changes made at Atléti look to be paying dividends in the league, but they lost to Aris Thessaloniki 1-0 in Greece in the Europa League on Thursday, which might bring them back down to earth a bit. They did that without Sergio Aguero, who should be fit for Sunday's match.
Barring some strange last-training-session injury, the Barça squad will be full strength and should start the same lineup as started on Tuesday against Panathinaikos. That bodes well for Barcelona and cules tuning in with grimaces and their fingers in front of their eyes from the beginning of the match.
Bojan was right, though, when he said earlier today that losing wouldn't be catastrophic. Indeed, it's early days yet, so keep your wits about you and keep your mind focused on the fact that there are 114 points up for grabs. If anyone gets 96 (or 99) points this year, they'll win the league running away. You can bank on that.