Soccer-Barca wary of more madness at the Calderon

Reuters

Thu, 16 Sep 08:52:00 2010

* Barca have lost on last three visits to Atletico's stadium

Barcelona's recent trips to play Atletico Madrid in La Liga have been end-to-end thrillers that have usually ended up with a victory for the home team.

The Calderon has witnessed 25 goals in the last five league clashes between the teams, with Atletico stringing together 2-1, 4-3 and 4-2 victories in the last three years.

The champions suffered their only defeat of last season there and midfielder Andres Iniesta has warned his team mates to heed the lessons from those matches when they return on Sunday (1700 GMT).

"Sometimes these games are mad, and I can remember in some of them they have scored twice against us in five minutes," the scorer of Spain's winner in the World Cup final told daily Sport.

"We have to try and play our own game and above all else to be very focused. We can't afford to give them any chances because they have dangerous players, especially up front."

Atletico strikers Sergio Aguero and Diego Forlan have been in devastating form over the last month, helping their side build on last season's Europa League triumph by winning the European Super Cup and their opening two league games.

They travel to play Greek side Aris in the Europa League on Thursday and hope Aguero recovers from a bruised leg in time for Sunday.

SHOCK DEFEAT

Barca recovered from their shock 2-0 home defeat to promoted Hercules last weekend with a midweek pummelling of Panathinaikos in the Champions League, when Lionel Messi led them to a 5-1 victory.

Pep Guardiola perhaps paid for resting a number of first-team regulars against Hercules but will no doubt field his strongest side against Atletico, as he did on Tuesday.

Real Madrid travel north to play promoted Real Sociedad on Saturday (2000), battling to win over their demanding fans after some uninspired opening performances.

New coach Jose Mourinho is still fishing for his best side but will have been lifted by the energetic display they put on to defeat Ajax Amsterdam 2-0 in their Champions League opener on Wednesday.

New boys Mesut Ozil and Angel Di Maria impressed against Ajax and it was only profligate finishing from the likes of Gonzalo Higuain and Cristiano Ronaldo that denied them a more flattering scoreline.

Defender Sergio Ramos dropped out of the squad on Wednesday with a suspected calf injury and is doubtful.

Second division champions Sociedad have the same record as Real from their first two games -- a win and a draw.

 

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