Champions League preview: Barcelona vs. Atlético

It's an all-Spanish clash as La Liga's top-two meet in European quarter-final

The stage is set for a stormy encounter in Barcelona

The stage is set for a stormy encounter in Barcelona

With FC Barcelona’s 2-1 ‘Clasico’ defeat behind them, many around World Football are wondering if Real Madrid helped close the gap between both of their Liga rivals.

Luis Enrique has shrugged off those claims before they meet Atlético Madrid in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals on Tuesday, saying that their defeat to los Blancos is “already in the past.” His words have some merit, although Real Madrid did snap their 39 game unbeaten streak, it by no means hurts Barca’s reputation.

Their unbeaten streak coming to an end is the only blemish worth mentioning as they head to battle against Diego Simeone’s men, but the Argentine will likely point to Barca’s 2-2 slip up against Villarreal prior to the international break as a weakness trend.

On the training ground, Cholo could very well tell his team that Barca are fatigued, had a sub-par late March and early April by their standards, and that Atleti’s 5-1 thrashing of Real Betis at the weekend was no fluke.

When Atleti head into the Camp Nou on Tuesday, they will be underdogs, and the pressure will be on Barcelona. Perhaps Simeone prefers it that way. Regardless, Barca won’t change their style after any loss and won’t adjust for any opponent, they’re going to come out like they always do.

As the underdog, however, there’s reason to believe that los Rojiblancos will try none of the offensive-minded experimentation that they’ve tried all season. No, instead we will likely see old school Atleti show up, them against the world, bite you like a snake waiting in the grass.


Latest form (in all competitions) – W-W-W-D-L (Furthest right being most recent.)

In all honesty, Barca were in the drivers seat when Gerard Pique scored 10 minutes into the second half against Real Madrid, but they were undone in the last 20 minutes due to excellent counter-attacks. It can be argued that if the Blaugrana were on their ‘A’ game, perhaps Zidane’s men wouldn’t have even gotten on the ball so many times.

Luis Enrique has faith in his men, and claims no tactical adjustments will be made after Saturday’s loss according to ESPN.

“We will not change our way of playing, to have the ball in the oppositions’ half. That means opponents can break on us, although we want to have the least number of transitions as possible. But we are not machines, there can be mistakes, positional or decision making.”

El Clasico aside, Luis Enrique’s comments are expected, his team have only lost one in their last five, and have scored 16 goals in the process. Lucho has every right to be confident they’ll bounce back, especially since they’ve been exceptional in the Champions League so far.

But if there is a cause for concern, it’s that in addition to losing at the weekend, their 2-2 draw against Villarreal last month also saw them fail to defend a goal advantage, and that is where they’ll need to improve.

Barcelona will have to keep hold of their possesion-play to succeed on Tuesday, for they are not a team that are capable of holding onto leads if they have to do it by actually defending.

Barcelona possible XI –  Ter Stegen; Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Messi, Suarez, Neymar.

Key Players – 

  • Masche and Pique – Atleti are going to get chances, and they are definitely going to get them on the break, that is how it always is against Barca. If their possesion-play doesn’t hold up and they’re forced on the backfoot more than they are used to, then their go-to centerback pairing will be tested and they’ll have to show up.
  • ‘MSN’ – What more is there to say about this trio? They can do it all, period. Across all leagues in this 15/16 campaign, the Latino boys have 110 goals combined between them.

Atlético Madrid

Latest form (in all competitions) – W-W-W-L-W (Furthest right being most recent.)

The 5-1 win over Real Betis is huge, why? Because it allows Atleti to go into the Camp Nou with confidence in an area where it is usually lacking – goal scoring.

February saw los Rojiblancos struggle to consistently hit the back of the net, until Antoine Griezmann ended his drought in the Madrid derby.

From there, everything changed in March. Valencia, Deportivo, and Real Sociedad all conceded three goals against Atleti, and if it wasn’t for the full-time deadlock against PSV in the second-leg, then March would have been utterly spectacular for Simeone’s squad in the goals department.

It’s been up and down in this area for Atletico, and pundits will still point to it as a weakness considering their Round of 16 outings saw them score zero goals in both legs. So the question is still the same this time around, can they carry over their Real Betis goal scoring form into their quarterfinal clash against Barca?

That question could have been worse, considering last month saw a bit of an injury crisis take place with starters Diego Godin, Jose Gimenez, and Yannick Carrasco all being questionable for Tuesday’s match.

Fortunately, this past Sunday saw Godin and Carrasco cleared, while backup defender Stefan Savic has also been given the green light. The absence of Gimenez obviously stings, but it could have been worse for the Madrid side.

Atlético possible XI – Oblak; Juanfran, Godin, Hernandez, Luis; Koke, Gabi, Fernandez, Saul; Griezmann, Torres.

Key Players – 

  • The whole starting XI – Usually we at Atletico Fans pinpoint at least two key players for every preview we do, but against Barca over two legs, this whole club needs to defend as a unit and needs to utilize the counter to really hit the reigning treble winners hard. Everyone on the pitch wearing the red and white badge needs to give 100%.

  • Bushdoctor504

    Aupa Atleti!!!!

  • Randy Ved Jawahir

    Aupa Atleti!!!

  • Vamos Atleti! I’m going to wear yellow at the Camp Nou tonight, it’s been a good colour there for us!

  • Kris

    Enjoy buddy!

  • Jeronamo Pakor Jones

    Aupa Atleti!!!

  • Jeronamo Pakor Jones

    Hope you enjoy our victory first class

  • Going to be a killer match regardless of who you support. Thanks for reading my piece, and follow me on Twitter: @C_V_News