What: Champions League Quarter-final – Second Leg
Who: Atletico Madrid (1) vs Barcelona (1) (First leg score in brackets)
When: Wednesday 9th April, 2014, at 19:45 UK Time
Where: Vicente Calderon, Madrid, Spain

One Game at a Time

Diego Simeone’s philosophy of taking one game at a time has so far paid dividends for the Mattress Makers. Atletico Madrid are leading the Spanish La Liga chart, one point ahead of Wednesday adversaries Barcelona. A scoreless draw will see them advance to the Champions League semi-finals as a result of the away goal rule, with the first leg having ended 1-1. However, such a strategy will not be adopted by last season’s Copa del Rey winners, as they know well that they could be punished by Barcelona should they “park the bus” at the Vicente Calderon. This upcoming game is the team’s most important one this term, one that they will surely want to win at all costs.

Atletico Madrid have not managed to win against Barcelona in the last ten games that pitted the two together in all competitions, yet Joao Miranda insists that the possibility of elimination has not crossed the players’ mind. “All matches are important. We have to play it as if it was our last. We are used to big games. The prospect of elimination is not going through our heads. We are just thinking about winning and negotiating Barcelona”, commented the Brazilian.

Undefeated in their last nine games in the Champions League, this match will be Atletico Madrid’s perfect litmus test to see how serious the team are about winning silverware.

Tight Affair

Recent games between Barcelona and Atletico Madrid have been very tight affairs, with the last four bouts between both sides ending in draws. Given the way the first leg was disputed, it is fair to say that the return match at the Vicente Calderon will also be a very tight affair, with only minimal details separating the two teams. 

Realising that Atletico Madrid are more than capable of posing a threat, Barcelona will have to dig in deep in order to qualify for the semi-finals. A display similar to the one they presented last week at the Camp Nou might not suffice this time.

The fact that Atletico Madrid are top of the domestic league table is credit to their resiliency all season long, and Barcelona midfielder Xavi believes that his side are in for a tough battle against Los Colchoneros.

“We would have liked to have a more favourable result [from the first leg], but qualification is still in our hands. We will try to beat a team that always creates chances Their defensive work is excellent. We have to be the first side to score, something that has not occurred in the last four meetings. We do not know how they will play. We will try, but we cannot guarantee anything. We will try to be better and compete well”, said Xavi.

mobile ad

Recent form

Atletico Madrid:
Athletic Bilbao 1-2 Atletico Madrid (29/03; La Liga)
Barcelona 1-1 Atletico Madrid (01/04; Champions League)
Atletico Madrid 1-0 Villarreal (05/04; La Liga)

Espanyol 0-1 Barcelona (29/03; La Liga)
Barcelona 1-1 Atletico Madrid (01/04; Champions League)
Barcelona 3-1 Real Betis (05/04; La Liga)

Key absences

Atletico Madrid: Arda Turan (doubt); Diego Costa (doubt); Javi Manquillo

Barcelona: Gerard Pique; Victor Valdes; Isaac Cuenca; Jonathan dos Santos

Players to watch

Atletico Madrid – Thibaut Courtois: The Belgian shot-stopper was sublime in the first leg and is the reason why his team still have a chance of qualifying for the next round. Topping himself with another memorable display should guarantee Atletico Madrid qualification.

Barcelona – Lionel Messi: The forward is having a bit of a dry spell against Atletico Madrid, having failed to score in the last five games versus them. At the Vicente Calderon, away goals are crucial to ensure his team’s progression, and that is precisely what Messi will be after.

Match Prediction

Recent games have shown that both teams are almost on par, and there is a feeling that this upcoming clash will not be different. Atletico Madrid might miss the services of key men such as Arda Turan and Diego Costa, but the Mattress Makers have shown that they can cope without the latter when he was abruptly withdrawn in the first leg. Expect a tight affair, with a final score of 2-2 that will see Barcelona go through on aggregate.

Betting on Atletico Madrid v Barcelona? Make sure you visit Inside Bet first!

mobile ad