Two young Argentinian strikers short on stature but rich in talent will take centre stage when FC Barcelona and Club Atlético de Madrid meet on Sunday.
Both clubs have recovered from unsteady starts to the Primera División season and have hit form in the league and in Europe. Barcelona have a 100 per cent UEFA Champions League record from two games and are up to fourth at home, within two points of leaders Real Madrid CF. The other capital giants are one place and three points further adrift but their 9-0 aggregate UEFA Cup success against Kayseri Erciyesspor is proof of their fine form.
At the centre of it all have been this season’s joint-leading scorers on five goals, Lionel Messi of Barcelona and Atlético teenager Sergio 'Kun' Agüero, who has filled the imposing boots of Fernando Torres with aplomb. Messi and Agüero inspired Argentina to victory in the respective 2005 and 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cups, and José Pekerman - who won the trophy three times as coach in a previous era - said: "Messi and Agüero have charisma and we all expect the unexpected from them."
Agüero himself added: "We are always talking to each other and we've been joking about the fact that we are both level on goals because neither of us expected it. Messi is a great player and is only 20, but like me he still has a lot to learn. I would love to play alongside him but he would have to come to Atlético for that to happen."
Messi said: "We're both playing well, confidently, something that's important for a footballer. My wish is for both of us to carry on this way, although this weekend I hope that doesn't apply to him. Agüero is impossible to stop, scoring goals and doing impossible things. He does everything and it'll be tough to stop him, but we both have different styles."
While attention is focused on the South American skill, Frank Rijkaard is left with a weakened defence. Tuesday's UEFA Champions League win in VfB Stuttgart left Rafael Márquez nursing a calf injury. Gianluca Zambrotta is recovering from a pulled thigh muscle along with midfielder Yaya Touré, although Gabriel Milito and Carles Puyol are expected to be fit despite their thigh problems. The same injury keeps Atlético midfielder Luis Perea out while Thiago Motta is still recovering from a knee problem.