By ESPNSTAR.com staff
The Madrid-based side visit the Camp Nou in an exciting top of the table clash although they have been pegged as underdogs heading into the game.
Despite impressing this term, Los Rojiblancos face an excellent Barcelona side that has only dropped points once so far in a 2-2 draw with Real Madrid back in October. Atletico, in comparison, have already suffered two defeats and are thus six points behind the Catalan side.
Vilanova knows that Atletico would therefore be pumped for the game and confessed to be very impressed with their performances this season.
"Their points total says it all. We've made the best ever start to a league season and they're only 6 points behind," he pointed out in a pre-match press conference on Saturday.
"In any other league they would be the leaders. They're making a great start to the season and they finished in excellent form last season.
"The games they haven't taken points from have been at grounds where you can easily lose. I put more value on the number of points they've managed to accumulate and their form in the cup and the Europa League.
"They believe in themselves and that's the most important thing in a team."
Another huge talking point will be the personal battle between Radamel Falcao and Lionel Messi. Both forwards have been in scintillating form this season and fans are eager to find out who comes out on top in Sunday's game.
But the Barca coach would not let the spotlight on the two players shift his focus away from the threat provided by other talented players within the Atletico squad.
"They've got a group of quality players, who are absolutely clear about what they have to do. They're not just Falcao; they've got goal scorers like Diego Costa and Adrián, and the midfielders and fullbacks get into attacking positions.
"And when they have to defend, they defend very well all together."
When asked to compare the two, however, Vilanova could not provide a definite answer on which player was the better one.
"They're different players. In common, they have the ability to score and to get better and better.
"The good fortune we have is that they enjoy themselves. They want to play.
"The feeling that comes across to me is that they want to compete.
"The fact that these players still have the hunger to win makes our job easy."
Should Atletico lose, city rivals Real could catch up to within two points of them if they secure a win against Espanyol earlier on Sunday.