ESPN FC: Neymar stars
Gerardo Martino believes Atletico Madrid are threatening to finally end Barcelona and Real Madrid’s dual domination of La Liga.
Atletico are unbeaten in all competitions this season and lead the Spanish championship, alongside Martino’s Barcelona, after stating the competition with a 100% record.
And Martino, who has already met the Diego Simeone-led Atletico twice in the Supercopa, admitted the Spanish capital club is now a firm favourite for domestic honours – even if he is alone in his assessment.
“There are three teams that can win this league, but hardly anyone agrees with me,” he told reporters.
“I got a good look at Atletico in the Supercopa.”
However, a more immediate threat is Atletico’s cross-town rival, Real Madrid, with the first Clasico of the season announced on Monday.
But despite that danger looming on the horizon, Martino said his side are solely focused on the club’s next matches in La Liga and the Champions League, especially with a number of players expected to make their return from injury.
“We have matches against Osasuna and Milan first,” Martino said. “The games we have coming up before the Clasico are important.”
“I don’t know if [Messi] will be back for the game against Osasuna. We shouldn’t take risks, and keep an eye on what’s next. But Jordi Alba and [Javier] Mascherano will be there.
“[Puyol’s] knee is responding well. If everything is fine at the end of the week, he’ll be ready for [the match against Osasuna in] Pamplona.”