Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde has tipped Atletico Madrid as one of the strong favourites for the Spanish LaLiga title this season.
Barcelona will hope to make it eight straight wins when they visit Atletico’s brand new stadium the Wanda Metropolitano in the league on Saturday.
The Catalan giants top the league table on 21 points after seven games, while Atletico are fourth, six points adrift the leaders.
“Atlético are tough opponents and candidates for the league title, we know how important the game is,” Valvarde said in his pre-match press conference on Friday.
“It’s a big game and the Wanda Metropolitano will have a great atmosphere.
“Atlético are tough to break down and score against. They defend as a unit and are disciplined,” he said.
And on Lionel Messi’s impact following his hat-trick heroics in Argentina’s 3-1 away win against Ecuador in the 2018 World Cup qualifier, Valvarde said: “The best thing about Messi is his constant competitiveness and the responsibility he takes. Every day he is better.”