Atletico ready 'The Tiger' Radamel Falcao as their big-game hunter

Falcao to play at Santiago Bernabeu for first time

Barcelona

Of all the No 9s to face this weekend, Radamel Falcao would be the last on Jose Mourinho’s list. With 13 goals in 12 games and 50 goals for Atletico Madrid in a season and a half, the man they call “The Tiger” will be a major threat to Real Madrid in his first appearance at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Were this a Formula One team, Jorge Mendes could instruct the Colombian striker to bow to rank and not cause Mourinho too many problems. But the agent for both men will feel he can’t lose as two of his greatest assets face up to each other.

More worrying for Real than Falcao’s current form is his record in big games. The Uefa Super Cup hat-trick against Chelsea at the start of the season is one of the reasons why he remains their No 1 transfer target. His coach, Diego Simeone, was so confident of how well his forward would perform in that game he asked for his shirt before the match.

“Before the Super Cup final I asked him for his shirt because I knew it was going to be his night and that he was going to do something special,” said Simeone.

“He scored the hat-trick and he gave me his shirt which I have at home. I will always cherish it.”

At times Simeone talks like a man who knows his player-coach relationship with Falcao will not last too much longer. “He will be the best in the world because he will keep on getting better,” said Simeone. “I say that as someone who has known Radamel since we were together at River Plate in Argentina. He has an intuition and a level of accuracy in front of goal that I have only ever seen in Hugo Sanchez [the former Mexico striker].

“As a finisher, he is like Hugo but he is a more complete player. And he has another great virtue; in every game he goes out to do better than the last one. It’s that kind of attitude that will make him the best.”

Diego Godin, an Athletico team-mate, rates Falcao even more highly than Real’s main attacking asset, Cristiano Ronaldo. “As a goalscorer he is incredible.,” said Godin. “You give him a metre and, if the ball drops to him in that space, he will score. His finishing is incredible. If you compare Falcao and Ronaldo, right now I think Falcao has the edge. Cristiano is a little bit more predictable.”

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific