In-form Falcao sets sights on Barcelona
Atletico Madrid's new striker Radamel Falcao has scored five goals in his last two outings and said his side would be going on the offensive when they visited Barcelona on Saturday.
"We are trying to control possession and this is also Barca's strong point," the Colombia forward told reporters. "But we know how to play with and without the ball and will have to be patient when they have it, and use it well when we have control."
Atletico, who have won their last two games 4-0, are boosted by the return to the squad of Brazilian playmaker Diego, who remains a doubt, however, for the Nou Camp.
Gerard Pique is set to return to the centre of the Barcelona defence after injury but Pep Guardiola saw Dutch midfielder Ibrahim Afellay ruled out for a long spell after he tore knee ligaments on Thursday.
Afellay joins Andres Iniesta and Alexis Sanchez on the injury list.
Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho was on the offensive as he dismissed talk of a "crisis" ahead of Saturday's visit of Rayo Vallecano, after surprisingly dropping points against Levante and Racing Santander during the week.
"Some talk of a crisis, a dramatic situation," he told reporters on Friday. "It's three bad games but only one week, not three weeks. It isn't a crisis but a negative situation."
Real will have a patched up defence with Ricardo Carvalho, Pepe and Fabio Coentrao joining long-term injury victims Nuri Sahin and Hamit Altintop in the treatment room.
Pepe and Coentrao have muscle strains while Carvalho is recovering from a blow to the head suffered in Santander on Wednesday.
Leaders Real Betis are the only side left with a 100 percent record and travel to struggling Getafe on Monday, when the promoted club can cement their place at the top with a win.
"Nobody believed that we would have 12 points from four games at this stage," Paraguay striker Roque Santa Cruz told reporters. "We just knew it would be important to get as many points as possible in the first few games."
Villarreal have had a poor start to the season and visit another side low on confidence, Athletic Bilbao, on Saturday. Coach Juan Carlos Garrido had words of support for his opposite number Marcelo Bielsa, who has one point so far.
"Bielsa is a coach with one of the best curriculums," he said. "It is an honour to face one of his teams. He's trying to impose his ideas and change always needs a period of adaptation."
Second-placed Valencia visit Sevilla on Saturday without midfielder David Albelda who has a back problem. Coach Unai Emery has rested defenders Miguel and Angel Dealbert, and winger Pablo Hernandez from his squad.