Falcao and Atletico eye Barça in race for top of La Liga standings

Falcao and Atletico eye Barça in race for top of La Liga standings

MADRID - Agence France-Presse
Falcao and Atletico eye Barça in race for top of La Liga standings

Atletico Madrid’s Cristian Rodriguez (R) runs with the ball in front of Academica Coimbra’s Junior Lopes. REUTERS photo

The leadership of La Liga is in play over two consecutive nights in the Spanish capital this weekend, but without the involvement of Real Madrid.

The defending champion is at Mallorca on Oct. 28 and currently sits in fourth position.

It is eight points behind joint leaders Barcelona, which visits Rayo Vallecano on Oct. 27, and city rival Atletico Madrid that host Osasuna on Sunday.

Atletico, level on 22 points with Barcelona, have won seven straight league games since the opening day of the season and is full of confidence.

Radamel Falcao is in stunning form after scoring in each of his last 10 matches, with a total of 16 strikes in that period, including four in three games for the Colombian national side.

After being rested from the Europa League on Oct. 25, he will be looking to add to his league tally of 10 goals, that includes the last minute free-kick he hit for an important 1-0 victory at Real Sociedad last weekend.

Atletico coach Diego Simeone has no doubts when placing Falcao at the very top of the world game at the moment.

“He is currently amongst the three best players in the world, he has been top scorer in the last two Europa Leagues and won them, he has won the European Supercup and although (Lionel) Messi and Cristiano (Ronaldo) have had other successes he really is right up with them and their high standards,” said Simeone.

One player who could be rejoining Falcao in Atletico’s side on Oct. 28 is Turkish winger Arda Turan, whose presence was missed during the win at Sociedad. “Arda gives us something different, he shapes our attacking play so we hope to have him back soon, but it’s a long league and we need him back in the best shape possible, so we’ll see if he makes it in time for Sunday,” Simeone added.

Barcelona has also been amongst the goals in recent weeks, having shared 18 with the opposition in its last three league games. The surprise is that the team has conceded eight in those games, and although it dropped the only points of the season so far in the recent 2-2 draw with Real Madrid, it did manage to outscore Sevilla and Deportivo La Coruna, 3-2 and 5-4 respectively, both away from home.

However, with injuries keeping out Gerard Pique, Carles Puyol, Dani Alves and Jordi Alba in that time, it is little wonder the Catalans have suffered at the back. With Alba already back and Alves in contention to play at Rayo, the worst of their defensive problems may be over.