Barca, Atletico gear up for Champions League quarter-final
Madrid, March 31 (IANS) Domestic duels will be forgotten Tuesday night when FC Barcelona entertain Atletico Madrid in the Camp Nou Stadium in the quarter-final first leg of the UEFA Champions League.
The top two in the Spanish BBVA Primera Liga will have to forget the battle for the domestic title as European glory beckons in what promises to be a thrilling, fascinating and even tie which will see a contrast in styles, reports Xinhua.
Barca will seek to impose their traditional passing game on an Atletico that has shown it is able to mix it with both Barca and Real Madrid this campaign.
Diego Simeone’s team doesn’t have the passing ability of Barca, but have shown all season they are an outfit that is perfectly well-drilled, incredibly hard working and in Diego Costa they have a man capable of giving sleepless nights to any defence.
Those weapons were put to good use Saturday night as Atletico took all three points from their difficult visit to face Athletic Club Bilbao and the 2-1 win in the San Mames Stadium has given them the confidence to believe they really can win the league.
And if they can beat Barca and Real Madrid in the league, why can’t they defeat them in Europe as well?
“We have never felt inferior to anyone: we know what out strong points are and where we have to go in order to win matches,” commented Atletico central defender, Diego Godin in the Spanish press Monday.
Meanwhile Barca midfielder, Xavi Hernandez admitted that he didn’t enjoy the prospect of facing a domestic rival in Europe.
“I don’t like to play Spanish sides in Europe and Atletico know us very well. It is hard to create chances against them and they know us very well,” said Xavi, who described Atletico as a rival that is “uncomfortable, they are difficult, good in defence and they play well on the break, as well as having good players such as Diego Costa, Koke and Arda Turam. The tie will be decided on small details.”
Barca will again have Jose Pinto in goal given that Victor Valdes is out for the season, while Gerard Pique and Javier Mascherano will play in central defence. Once again the question is whether or not Neymar, who played well in the difficult win over Espanyol Saturday, will start, or whether Alexis Sanchez or Pedro Rodriguez will be given the chance.
The sides have already faced each other three times this season with Barca drawing 0-0 in Madrid in the last meeting between the two sides, while they drew 1-1 and 0-0 in the Spanish Supercup in August, which Barca won on away goals.