Real Madrid’s draw with Espanyol means that Barcelona can look forward to receiving a guard of honor as the newly crowned La Liga champions when they travel to Atletico Madrid on Sunday.
The title has long appeared to be heading back to the Camp Nou, but when Madrid dropped points on Saturday, the Blaugrana’s reclaiming of the championship was finally confirmed.
While Barcelona suffered bitter disappointment in the Champions League, losing 7-0 to Bayern Munich in the semifinals, defender Jordi Alba was eager to point out that the league title is still highly valued.
“Hopefully after the game at the Vicente Calderon, we’ll be lifting the trophy. It’s a very important title and we’re eager to be crowned champions!” he said, according to Barcelona’s official website.
Alba also criticized those who have failed to pay Barcelona due credit for their accomplishments as a result of the title win has appeared a matter of when rather than if for so long.
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“It will be my first domestic club title” he added. “People should appreciate the big lead we’ve built up ahead of the second placed team. The team values that lead very highly.”
Victor Valdes and Pedro look set to be fit after both missed the 4-2 victory over Real Betis last Sunday.
Atletico Madrid also have little to play for on Sunday having already sealed a spot in next season’s Champions League following their victory over Celta Vigo in midweek. Manager Diego Simeone may be hesitant to risk certain players with their Copa del Rey final against Real Madrid coming up next Friday.
But midfielder Koke has said that the players are firmly focused on the match with Barcelona.
"I don’t know what the coach will do, until Sunday we will not know,” he explained, according to Atletico Madrid’s official website. “First we have to think about the league, which is the next game. The coach is the one who decides who will play and who won’t.”
Atletico Madrid (probable)
D: Juanfran, Miranda, Diaz, Filipe Luis
M: Gabi, Tiago
Rodriguez, Garcia, Turan
F: Diego Costa
D: Daniel Alves, Pique, Adriano, Alba
M: Iniesta, Busquets, Xavi
F: Villa, Messi, Tello
Prediction: Atletico Madrid have had a fine season yet they have again come up short when playing the big two of Barcelona and Real Madrid. With Barcelona likely wanting to add an exclamation point to their title win, that trend could be set to continue.
Atletico Madrid 1-3 Barcelona
Where to watch: The Liga contest will kick-off from the Vicente Calderon at 1 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by beIN Sport, with a live stream available on beIN Sport Play.