Next Wednesday, April 9, 2014 (11:45 AM Pacific), the current Liga BBVA champions – Barcelona – will travel to Madrid to measure forces with Atlético at the emblematic Vicente Calderón for the second leg of the UEFA Champions League Quarter-finals.
After the 1-1 draw at Camp Nou, Diego Simeone’s Atlético Madrid sets off for the second leg with a slight advantage over their rivals but that might prove to be just enough for the Colchoneros to walk through to next round of the competition.
Atlético Madrid’s career at this season’s competition has been almost flawless, with just two draws in ten matches, one at Petrovsky Stadium against Zenit and another one at Camp Nou against the all-powerful Barcelona, and all without knowing the taste of defeat so far.
The Colchoneros have already played against Barcelona on different competitions several times this season and all matches ended in a draw. There seems to be an almost perfect match between both sides this season and not even the individual talent of their biggest stars seem to be enough to break the stalemate.
Because of the recent injuries of the Hispano-Brazilian forward Diego Costa and of the talented Turkish midfielder Arda Turan, Diego Simeone is not yet certain if both players will be able to offer their contribution to the team for next Wednesday’s clash. Diego Costa is undergoing some intense physical condition training and Atlético’s medical staff seems to be very optimistic with his injury’s progress.
As for Barcelona, their UEFA Champions League’s career this season has been marked by inconsistency, especially during the group stage phase, during which the team sucumbed at Amsterdan at the hands of a bold Ajax side, walked away with nothing better than a draw from their San Siro’s match against a fragile AC Milan and grabbed a narrow win at Celtic Park on a match marked by a controversial performance by the referee.
It’s fair to say that Gerardo Martino’s Barcelona it is not that same overwhelming team from Pep Guardiola but is also true that the team has clearly been improving, especially after being defeated at Nuevo José Zorrilla Stadium by a relegation-threatened Valladolid side.
For next Wednesday’s clash, the Argentinean manager will not be able to count on the team’s experienced Spanish centre back Gerard Piqué, who will be out of the team for at least four weeks, and on the Spanish international goalie Victor Valdés, who will miss the rest of the season due to a severe knee injury he suffered on the match against Celta de Vigo.
Although Atlético Madrid might enjoy some slight advantage over the four times European champions for next Wednesday’s clash, the match could go both ways, since there is nothing that special separating both sides in terms of quality. This being said, the most likely outcome is 1-0 to Atlético Madrid.
TV Info: Fox Deportes, Fox Sports 2 USA.
Atlético Madrid (4-4-1-1) – Courtois – Juanfran – Miranda – Godin – Filipe Luis – Mario Suárez – Gabi – Koke – Raúl García – Diego – Diego Costa
Barcelona (4-3-3) – Pinto – Dani Alves – Puyol – Mascherano – J.Alba – Busquets – Xavi – Iniesta – Neymar – Fàbegras – Messi.