Atletico Madrid’s top scorer Diego Costa has shaken off a leg muscle strain and will be in the starting lineup for Saturday’s La Liga showdown at Barcelona, coach Diego Simeone said on Friday.
The Brazil-born Spain forward, who has scored 27 goals in La Liga and eight in the Champions League this term, missed Sunday’s 1-1 draw at home to Malaga but returns to try to help Atletico secure the point they need to clinch their first domestic league title in 18 years.
“He is fine,” Simeone, who was in the 1996 title-winning side, told a news conference.
“He trained normally without any problems and he will play from the start,” added the Argentine.
The game at the Nou Camp will be only the third “winner takes all” match on the final day of the campaign in La Liga history and the first since 1951.
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Atletico are seeking their first title since 1996 and are top on 89 points, while Barca, bidding for their fifth crown in six years, are second on 86.
A point would be enough for Atletico and Barca need to beat the Madrid club to triumph by virtue of a superior head-to-head record, used to separate teams if they are level on points.
“I don’t expect a match that will be decided quickly,” Simeone said.
“I expect one where Barca start strongly, I expect the best Barca we have seen in recent times.
“They are playing at home and they have an extraordinary squad. But the game in itself is extremely motivating for the players.”
“We are working well and we will look for the best options. We know what we are about and we know our strengths and weaknesses.”
Atletico and Barca have played each other five times this season in a series of closely-fought encounters where the Catalan club had the lion’s share of possession but were mostly thwarted by Atletico’s mean defence.
Barca edged Atletico to win the season-opening Spanish Super Cup, when Neymar’s goal in a 1-1 draw at the Calderon in the first leg was enough to secure victory after the pair played out a 0-0 stalemate the Nou Camp in the return.
After holding Barca 0-0 at the Calderon in January in La Liga, Atletico clung on for a 1-1 draw at the Nou Camp in last month’s Champions League quarter-final, first leg and won the return 1-0 in Madrid.