Barcelona were handed the La Liga title courtesy of a Real Madrid draw with Espanyol. Now they will look to celebrate with a strong showing against Atletico Madrid, which is looking to build momentum ahead of the Copa del Rey final.
Barcelona have faded down the stretch, low-lighted by their punchless UCL exit against Bayern Munich. Winning the league title allows them to put that disappointment behind them. A road win over a strong Atletico side would be a perfect way to put an exclamation point on the championship.
The Colchoneros are preparing for the Spanish Cup final against rival Real Madrid at the end of next week. Since this is their last match before that chance at a trophy, it will be all about fine tuning their form. Barca will provide a good measuring stick.
It should be an entertaining, fast-paced encounter between two of La Liga's top clubs. Here's a look at all the important viewing information for the clash, followed by an examination of players to watch and a match prediction.
Where: Estadio Vicente Calderon, Madrid, Spain
When: Sunday, May 12 at 1 p.m. ET
Watch: beIN Sport
Live Stream: beIN Sport Play
Atletico Madrid Player to Watch: Radamel Falcao
Falcao has put together another terrific season for Atletico. He ranks third in La Liga scoring behind superstar rivals Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo for the second straight campaign. He's found the net 27 times in 32 league appearances.
The 27-year-old Colombian international scored the club's only goal in a 4-1 loss to Barca in December. He's also been in good form lately, scoring seven times in his last nine starts. The Colchoneros need him to maintain that form over the final few weeks.
He can expect heavy pressure from the Barca back line, which understands how dangerous he can be when given space. That can't stop Atletico from trying to get him a lot of touches early. It's the only way to stop the Blaugrana from completely taking over the match again.
Barcelona Player to Watch: Lionel Messi
Messi has been battling injuries lately, which is one of the main reasons for Barca's lackluster form. The attack simply isn't anywhere near as effective without his presence atop the formation to keep opposing back lines honest.
The good news for Barca is that Tito Vilanova said he's doing better ahead of the Atletico match and could play the entire match, according to the club website. Getting him back at full strength would provide a major boost.
There are few things in sports as exciting as Messi with the ball at his feet and room to work his magic. The Atletico defenders must ensure that doesn't happen on Saturday, or he'll make them pay just like he did with two goals in the first meeting.
Matchup to Watch: Battle of the Midfielders
Both clubs have dynamic strikers capable of changing the course of the match in the blink of an eye. So the match will come down to which midfield is able to control possession and create more chances for the likes of Falcao and Messi.
The star-studded Barcelona midfield, led by the playmaking duo of Xavi and Andres Iniesta, is normally unstoppable. The group wasn't nearly as effective in the Champions League matchup with Bayern, though. Expect a much stronger showing in this marquee match.
Atletico must find a way to level the playing field. The Colchoneros don't feature as much star power as Barca, but Adrian and Raul Garcia are both enjoying solid seasons. They should do enough to help the club earn at least a point against La Liga's top side.
Atletico Madrid 2, Barcelona 2
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