Atletico Madrid host Barcelona on Saturday in a game between two of the three leading La Liga sides.
Barcelona won the treble in the 2014/2015 season and it was at the Estadio Vicente Calderon that the European champions claimed the La Liga title with a 1-0 win.
But his side will likely be given another stern examination on their latest visit, with both teams having started the season strongly.
The game kicks off at 7.30pm Nigerian time.
The Catalans have not been at their free-flowing best during the first two league games, although 1-0 victories against Athletic Bilbao and Malaga have given them a platform on which to build their title defence.
Diego Simeone’s men, meanwhile, followed up a hard-fought 1-0 win against Las Palmas with a 3-0 dismantling of fellow UEFA Champions League side Sevilla at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.
Simeone helped Atleti break the domestic dominance of Real Madrid and Barca by guiding them to Liga glory in 2013/14 – coincidentally their triumph on that occasion being wrapped up at Barca’s Camp Nou.
While Atleti ultimately relinquished the prize to Barca last season, there are positive early signs that they can once again muscle their way into the battle for supremacy this time around.
One of the biggest surprises of the early season is that Messi – who scored 43 Liga goals last term – failed to find the net in the opening two games.
However, the Argentina superstar did score three times in four matches against Atleti last term – including that winner in the decisive league-deciding fixture in May – and he will be expected to fire on all cylinders after hitting three goals in two games against Bolivia and Mexico for his country during the international break.
!The respite from league action was perhaps less welcome for team-mate Gerard Pique, who has been at the centre of controversy in Spain with some sections of the national team’s fans booing his every move due to his views on Catalan independence.
Pique was forced to call a hastily arranged press conference on Thursday to address the issue amid suggestions he could quit playing for his country, but he rubbished those claims – although he will still have to wait to get back in a Barca shirt.
The defender was banned for four matches last month after being sent off in the second leg of the Supercopa Espana against Bilbao for insulting a linesman.
He will miss the clash with Atletico before serving the final game of his ban against Levante next weekend.