Champions League preview: Atlético vs. Barcelona

Semi-final place up for grabs in clash between Spain's top two

Atleti host Barcelona in 2nd leg quarter-final match-up  (Getty)

Atleti host Barcelona in 2nd leg quarter-final match-up
(Getty)

Four times this season, current La Liga leaders Atlético Madrid have taken on reigning champions and title chasers Barcelona, and four times, nothing has separated them.

The Rojiblancos‘ backline has cancelled out the Catalan’s attacking talent on each occasion they have met so far, although in Wednesday’s Champions League quarter-final second leg, something has to give.

Kick-off in the Spanish capital is set for 20:45 CET.

Along with Real Madrid, the two have been at loggerheads all season domestically, but a week ago Barca and Atleti turned their attentions to the European stage where they met in an entralling tactical clash, lit up by a couple of stunning goals from Diego Ribas and Neymar.

With an away goal to their name, Diego Simeone’s team have something to hold onto when run out in front of what will be a raucous home crowd in the Vicente Calderón tomorrow night, although may have to do so without key players.

Diego Costa, doubtful beforehand, limped off in the first half of last week’s first leg and remains unlikely to play having yet to remain to full training, and Arda Turan has also been ruled out with a groin problem.

Apart from that, there are no other injury concerns as Javi Manquillo returns to the squad for the first time in two months, although as seen in Saturday’s 1-0 win against Villarreal, fatigue could be a factor.

In his press conference, Simeone insisted that he would not risk anybody who wasn’t ‘at least 90% fit’, and confirmed that Raúl García and, interestingly, Adrián would come into the team that drew at the Camp Nou a week ago if needed.

“If Diego Costa is fit, he plays. If he is a little less than 100 percent, he will be on the bench. Otherwise he’ll be out,” he said. “If Adrián plays I am sure he will do very well for the team.”

“We have rotated some players in the last few matches which is important to keep the team fresh, this will be a passionate game between two teams with different styles.”

The Argentine also gave a brief insight into what his game plan may be, dismissing ideas that his team will sit back and defend given the visitors’ goalscoring prowess.

“Even if we have a small advantage from the first leg it will not change anything,” he told reporters. “Barça will play the same as always, they are specialists in scoring goals. Not long ago they scored four times in a place not far from here.”

“The battle of styles is great for football; one with possession, talent and what they have done over last decade, us with our heart, our humility, our counter-attack.”

“It will be one of the nicest games for sure, in the competition so far.” he concluded

Similarly to the red and whites, Barça laboured to a home win at the weekend, needing two penalties and an own goal to beat bottom side Real Betis.

Manager Tata Martino opted against significant rotation due to the ongoing league battle with his opposite number and compatriot, with his team having been rocked by an 18-month transfer ban sanctioned against them last week.

The Culés have fitness troubles of their own as well, with defender Gerard Piqué definitely out of contention. Like Costa, the 27 year-old was forced off in the opener, but unlike his new international teammate has been categorically ruled out.

Victor Valdés is on the long-term absentee list meaning José Pinto will again line up in goal, and captain Carles Puyol is also a doubt having yet to receive the medical clearance to play, despite still making the trip.

It’s not since 2007 that Barça last failed to reach the tournament semi-finals, although Martino knows his side will need a big performance if that run is to continue.

“We haven’t been leading at any point [against Atlético] and that’s very important,” he said. “We need to score at least one goal tomorrow and let’s see if we can create the scenario of us leading and try to manage from there on.”

“I really think that we have to go and keep our intensity up for the full 90 minutes. We know if we go a goal up we can play a different game to the ones we have seen in the previous cases.”

Whoever goes through will most likely also gain a psychological advantage heading into the final stretch of the La Liga season, although will have two more huge midweek matches to contend with. Both teams have opted to call-up all available first team players.

Atlético match selection
Goalkeepers: Courtois, Aranzubia
Defenders: Godín, Filipe, Alderweireld, Manquillo, Giménez, Juanfran, Miranda, Insúa
Midfielders: Mario Suárez, Tiago, Koke, Raúl García, Gabi, Cristian Rodríguez, Diego, Sosa
Forwards: Adrián, Villa, Diego Costa

Barcelona match selection
Goalkeepers: Pinto, Oier
Defenders: Montoya, Puyol, Bartra, Jordi Alba, Adriano, Dani Alves
Midfielders: Cesc, Xavi, Iniesta, Alexis, Mascherano, Busquets, Song, Afellay, Sergi Roberto
Forwards: Pedro, Messi, Neymar, Tello

Referee:  Howard Webb (England)


  • anshary

    Howard Webb! oh no. that does not sound good.
    But to be completely honest, i wouldn’t be too upset if we get knocked out. That would mean we can concentrate on winning the La Liga. This is gonna be our season! Aupa Atleti!

  • Pantic#10

    I’m so thrilled!!
    This is going to be the best match of Champions League so far.
    Clash of the Titans.
    Aupa Atleti!

  • Chewie

    Have you guys read this beautiful, beautiful article?
    http://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2014/apr/08/atleticomadrid-barcelona

    ‘Gabi said, glancing around. He began his career in the club’s youth system and has said before: “When I was a kid I didn’t say I wanted to be a footballer when I grew up; I said I wanted to be a footballer for Atlético Madrid.”‘

    What a great guy.

  • Ali

    Let’s do this guys! Their defense is a wreck without pique and valdes!

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    While many are thinking about wining the Champions League, or even make it a double by wining La Liga too, I’m thinking of the 4.9 million that we will earn if we knocked Barca out and reached the semis
    I’m thinking that these extra 4.9 million could help us to keep Costa for at least one more season
    I will stick to “partido a partido” until the very last game of the season

    Chewie, this is just another reason to love Gabi,
    we need more players like him, loyal players who choose love over money, but I can’t say over trophies, because the trophies came, and they will keep coming, with faith, hard work and sacrifices
    Those who stayed at Atleti have won more or at least the same number of trophies as those who left

    I wish Simeone prove me wrong, I wish I look stupid and Adrian makes a hell of a game if he started tonight !!

    I had a dream that Atleti & Man Utd will face each other in the semifinals, and usually, my dreams come true
    but sometimes, they come very wrong .. please don’t hate me if that happened !

  • Urban

    I had a dream that today we had a glorious chance in the first 5 min and we wasted it, and then barca managed to score and the match ended 0-1…

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    That wasn’t a dream Urban .. it was a nightmare !

  • Dircil

    @Urban: Tonight I will have a dream and when I wake up, I see Atletico winning!

  • AaX

    Whatever the Outcome Tonight is Atletico would willfully be the Victorious side at the End!

  • piserakos

    Vamos Atleti Vamos!!!!!!

  • Habib Mukadaffi

    People think it’s 11 vs 11 and that the best party will win, that’s wrong…. The score and wich team continues is already a fact. With pain in my heart, i must say That Barca will continue 100%

  • Jelle

    No Costa.
    Line up:
    Courtois
    Juanfran-Miranda-Godin-filipe
    Koke-gabi-tiago-Garcia
    Adrian – villa.

    Come on guys! Solid midfield!!

  • Chewie

    @HABIB yes we are the underdogs and there’s a big chance that Barcelona will defeat us. But when there’s a chance, there’s a hope, and we will support our boys till the end. All the Atletico world is super-excited, the main thing is to net let this desire to win become a problem.

  • Brad

    At least our midfield and back line look solid.

  • Brad

    *looks

  • Brad

    or look…can’t make up my mind apparently…

  • Jelle

    Agree with you Brad. It’s gonna be a thriller!!

  • Brad

    I’ve got the SkySports broadcast streaming and I hear “Adrián, he’s so unlucky”. Damn right he is.

  • Brad

    Also, I wish the feed would stop cutting out…i missed the goal, only knew we scored once Seven Nation Army came up

  • Jelle

    Wonderfull start. Two on the post and one goal. Come on one more Atletico

  • palestine-atletico

    What a game so far from adriaaaaaaaaaaaàaaaaan 😀

  • Brad

    The post is a better keeper than Pinto

  • Jelle

    I see the old Adrian tonight.

  • Will

    I hate my job and my timezone.. I can’t watch the match due to work!!! 🙁

    You’ll be my eyes today.. please, share your thoughts about the match, please!

    Good to read that Adrian is playing nice 🙂

  • Brad

    Well I’ll start with this: Barça is wearing black…either they forsee their own funeral or decided they didn’t want to look like a McDonald’s ad.

  • Brad

    Also, we were very aggressive at the start, but have pulled back considerably. Though Barça hasn’t managed to break through.

  • Will

    @BRAD, you made me laugh out loud. Very good analysis. 😀

  • Brad

    Free kick to Juanfran with 1 min left before HT

  • Brad

    Juanfran with a busted nose before the half. Hopefully he can get fixed up before the second

  • Jelle

    It was Godin who get the ball in the face 🙂

  • Brad

    Thanks for the correction. I haven’t quite got them all down to facial recognition yet XD

  • Brad

    Just a scary moment there with Neymar and Messi getting chances

  • Jelle

    Your doing a great job brad.

    Our defense is to deep right now!! Come on atletico.

  • Brad

    We need to hold on to the ball and get a few more chances.

  • Brad

    Atleti need to remember that this is Barça, not Villareal. It will be difficult to score once and defend.

  • Jelle

    Agree. We just need to survive this minuts. Then we can get a counter attack. Maybe after a sub with Diego.

  • Brad

    SkySports Commentator: “The Indians are on the war path and they’re making a lot of noise”

  • Brad

    Adrián out, Diego on.

  • Brad

    Diego with a good chance

  • Brad

    Gabi with a great chance…but a weak strike off of Pinto…corner coming

  • Brad

    Villa doesn’t get a deserved PK. Ref once again proves that the Catalans are a bunch of cheaters as he’s obviously been bribed.

  • Jelle

    If we not win this game!! We are playing so good

  • Brad

    OLE OLE OLE OLE Cholo Cholo

  • Brad

    Villa off, Cebolla on.

  • Will

    Ok, keep writing!

  • Brad

    Cebolla given a foul for not actually a foul.

  • Brad

    10 min left…the most stressful 10 min of the season so far.

  • Brad

    Godin taken down (with a bit of simulation), but it’s a free kick.

  • Brad

    5 min left

  • Brad

    Really wishing I was in the Calderon!

  • Brad

    2.5 min

  • Brad

    Cebolla with a great chance, off if Pinto.

  • Brad

    Koke with a yellow for delay (maybe?)

  • Will

    Come on!!!!! The time

  • Brad

    Yellow to Xavi for a foul on diego

  • Brad

    barely any time left

  • Ali

    Howard Webb you’re a JERKKKKK! Fuck you asshole..

  • Brad

    WE’RE THROUGH!

  • Brad

    ATLETI, ATLETI, ATLETICO DE MADRID!

  • Ali

    I’m gonna celebrate with cigars! YES YES YES . We knock out barca! And this isn’t a dream!

  • Brad

    Also, I’m pretty sure I broke the site a couple times trying to comment XD

  • Will

    WE MADE IT!!!!! Great team, great passion!

    Thank you my big friend @BRAD. You brought a little of the match to me here. 🙂

  • Pantic#10

    Absolutely perfect match.
    Adrian did his best.
    Tiago and gabi amazing.
    Villa maravilla
    Everybody perfect.
    Semi-finals here we are

  • Jelle

    We played so good! Our defense is outstanding. I’m gonna buy a new shirt with Gabi – what a player ! Atletiiiii !! A deserved win

  • Ash

    Guys, that Asian girl you saw on TV was one of our proud Atletico fans in China. Her name is Roxi. She currently stay in Spain. A devoted fan she is!

  • Ash

    As for me, I cried when the final whistle blew. I just couldn’t help it. And all I wanna say, besides words of praise to our warriors and our fantastic crowd, was that Cholo, I WISH YOU STAY WITH US FOREVER AND EVER!!!

  • jeronamo

    Fucking Excellent

  • Ratchet

    YYYYEEESSSS!!! Man, I’m so proud of Atletico, we are standing tall, even standing above the rest, and we do it with hard work, blood, sweat, tears and pure passion, it’s wonderful to see.

  • Burak

    Football isnt womans game football is mens game… And atleti show how can be a man how fight like a man to barca ‘s shit woman.. Nobody cannot stop atleti’s lions they will be champion …

  • Chewie

    All the players were in tune, everyone doing excellent job. Barca had chances but we had three times more. We outplayed them completely, cancelling their individual talent by our solid, grinding team play. There were moments when I thought – my god, that’s what I call pressing!

    Surprisingly, Adrian was astonishing! If he’d scored, I would agree to keep him for another season. The guy is just wasting his immense talent. Man, find yourself a sports psychologist – if even Cholo can’t help you, then you got real problems. Same applies to Cebolla, except the wasted talent part. He has a 100% chance and blew it.

    Oh, and I can’t praise are full-backs enough. And Gabi! When Villa was totally drained out, barely able to walk, our wonder-skipper – along with the magnificent Koke – showed no signs of fatigue. How on earth do these players do that? After playing such an intense match!

    Tonight I’m gonna shit with happiness =)

  • Urban

    No words

  • starvs

    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Zakaria

    What a glory day, what a glory day, words are nit enough….. I can’t say anything else. Perfect game perfect team aupa atleti