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Atletico set sights on toppling Barca

india Updated: Sep 18, 2009 19:35 IST

AFP
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Despite Atletico Madrid's dismal start to the campaign, winger Maxi Rodriguez believes that the under-performing side can rise to the challenge and beat champions Barcelona at the Nou Camp on Sunday.

While Barca are showing the form which allowed them to sweep all before them last season, Atletico Madrid have failed to pick up a win from their opening matches and know they will have to improve if they are to avoid a similar outcome to the 6-1 demolition they received at the hands of Pep Guardiola's men last time round.

"Our results so far have not been what we expected and the team is very disappointed but if we get three points against Barcelona then we are all going to feel a lot better. It is always good to beat a big side as it changes the mood in the dressing room," said Maxi.

"We cannot make the same mistakes as last season, we have to be concentrated in the first few minutes so that they cannot surprise you and then maybe slowly but surely we can assert ourselves on the game."

Barca have won their two games played so far as have Real Madrid, who after a summer of expensive reinforcements are looking to bring an end to the Catalan club's dominance.

While it had been said that Cristiano Ronaldo was feeling the pressure of expectancy after his high-profile move from Manchester United his two goals for Real in their mid-week Champions League victory over FC Zurich will have worked well to take the pressure off his shoulders.

As the team prepares to face Xerez the bad news is that they will be without Xabi Alonso for up to 10 days with a calf injury.

Valencia, who surprisingly managed to keep hold of their attacking stars David Villa, Juan Mata and David Silva, have also made a strong start to the campaign and coach Unai Emery demonstrated the ambition of the club saying they will be fighting for success in the Champions League as well as domestically.

His side face a Sporting Gijon whose objective will be to stay in the top flight.

Athletic Bilbao are in fine form but will face their first real test when they take on Villarreal this Sunday who have plenty of quality even without their injured talisman Marcos Senna.

Mallorca surprised Villarreal last weekend earning a point at El Madrigal and now they take on new comers to the top division Tenerife who have shown that they will be no push-overs.

After a poor opening day performance against Valencia, Sevilla answered their critics with a resounding win over Zaragoza and now travel to Osasuna hoping that they can overcome their ten-year run without a win in Pamplona.

Espanyol will be looking to get their first points away at Deportivo la Coruna and are hoping that midfielder Shunsuke Nakamura is able to shrug off an ankle strain he picked up on international duty with Japan. The Catalan side are still struggling to come to terms with the loss of their centre-half and club captain Dani Jarque who died of heart failure over the summer.

Malaga coach Juan Ramon Muniz will be up against his former club Racing Santander this weekend but their will be few familiar faces in the away side who have replaced half their team since last season.

Zaragoza and Valladolid will both be looking to bounce back after confidence sapping defeats in which they conceded four goals to Sevilla and Valencia respectively, while Barcelona's last league victims Getafe meet Almeria.

Fixtures

Saturday

Deportivo la Coruna v Espanyol, Mallorca v Tenerife, Osasuna v Sevilla, Malaga v Racing Santander, Barcelona v Atletico Madrid

Sunday

Athletic Bilbao v Villarreal, Zaragoza v Valladolid, Almeria v Getafe, Real Madrid v Xerez, Valencia v Sporting Gijon