By Joe Meloni
By season’s end, Atletico Madrid’s key contribution to the 2010-11 season may be sidelining Barcelona dynamo Lionel Messi for a couple weeks. The Argentine left Sunday’s match, which Barcelona won 2-1, in the final minutes after a challenge from Tomas Ujfalusi.
Failing to pull any points from Barca cost Atletico a chance to continue its early season success. Currently, los Rojiblancos are in the obligatory late-September, four-way tie for fourth place with Barcelona, among others. Three days from now, Atletico will meet current table topper Valenica, which, even with former talisman David Villa roaming the Camp Nou, has handled its three games with as many victories. While the triumphs came against middling sides Malaga, Racing Santander and Hercules, securing maximum points from these fixtures is key to winning La Liga.