Estadio Vicente Calderón, Madrid
April 09, 2014; 19:45 BST
Atletico Madrid host Barcelona in the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie at Estadio Vicente Calderón tonight as they look to secure a place in the semi-final stage of this competition. Atletico Madrid head into this tie with a slight advantage having scored a crucial away goal against Barcelona in the first leg which ended in a 1-1 draw and the Catalan club haven’t won in this ground on their last two visits. Diego Simeone’s men will happily take a 0-0 draw, like they managed against this Barcelona side in La Liga back in January.
Atletico Madrid are heading into this match on a nine-match unbeaten streak in all competitions as they managed another comfortable win over Villarreal in La Liga at the weekend. They have a fantastic record at home and have suffered only one defeat at Vicente Calderón this season – against Real Madrid back in February. The fact that Barcelona haven’t managed to defeat them in 90 minutes in their last four encounters in all competitions will provide them with a massive boost heading into this fixtures.
Barcelona on the other hand are on a seven-match unbeaten streak in all competitions and they managed a 3-1 win over Real Betis at the weekend. Their away record has been less flattering though and they have won only three of their last six matches on the road.
This match is beautifully poised and is expected to be a humdinger. The first leg delivered on all the expectations, now will Atletico Madrid pull out what will surely be one of their best moments in history and book a place in the semi-final, or will Barcelona show their class and experience in this competition to provide a performance worth remembering?
Team news and tactics
Diego Simeone will be missing some key players ahead of this important clash against Barcelona. He took a risk with Diego Costa in the first leg, but the Spanish international limped off in the first half with a thigh problem and has also missed Atletico’s clash against Villarreal at the weekend. Costa has been included in the match-day squad but is unlikely to start against Barcelona tonight.
Arda Turan has also picked up a groin injury in the first leg of this tie and will be unavailable for selection as well. Javier Manquillo, whose last appearance was in the 0-2 defeat against Real Madrid in Copa del Rey, is expected to return to the squad after his long absence due to a neck injury.
Diego Simeone is expected to make three changes to the side he fielded against Villarreal at the weekend. Miranda, who was an unused substitute in that match, will replace Toby Alderweireld in the center of the defence. While Tiago and Gabi, will resume their partnership in the center of the midfield as Mario Suarez and drops down to the bench.
Koke played in a central role against Villarreal with Cristian Rodriguez and Raul Garcia on the wings, but the 22-year-old will move to the left with Rodriguez being shifted to the right wing. This means Raul Garcia, who scored the winner against Villarreal, is expected to partner David Villa upfront with Diego dropping down to the bench. But given Diego’s good performance in the first leg of this tie, Diego Simeone might also opt to start him alongside Villa which would then mean that Rodriquez will drop down to the bench and Garcia will start on the right wing.
Expected starting line-up (4-4-2): Courtois (GK); Juanfran, Miranda, Godin, Luis; Rodriguez, Gabi, Tiago, Koke; Garcia, Villa
Like Diego Simeone, Gerardo Martino will also be missing some key players ahead of this tie. Victor Valdes and Jonathan dos Santos are out for the rest of the season, while Gerard Pique was the latest addition to the injury list when he was substituted in the 12th minute of the match in the first leg of this tie with a hip fissure. Carles Puyol, whose last appearance for Barcelona was in the 4-1 win over Almeria last month, has been included in the match-day squad but is yet to receive all-clear to play in the second leg. The Spaniard is unlikely to make any appearance at Estadio Vicente Calderon.
Diego Simeone is expected to make three changes to the side he fielded against Real Betis at the weekend. Jordi Alba, who was rested for that game, will replace Adriano at left back. Neymar and Cesc Fabregas are expected to start in the three-man attack alongside Lionel Messi as Pedro and Alexis Sanchez drops down to the bench.
Having conceded an away goal to Atletico Madrid in the first leg, Barcelona will have to push for goals in tonight. Atletico will sit deep, keep themselves organised at the back and will look to hit the Catalan side on the break. Barcelona will have to keep their patience once again as they build-up and will have to beat the first press by Atletico in the midfield.
Atletico will want to make it a physical affair and disrupt Barcelona’s rhythm. Gerardo Martino will hope that Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi can work some magic once again as they look to secure their place in the semi-final.
Expected starting line-up (4-3-3): Pinto (GK); Alves, Mascherano, Bartra, Alba; Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta; Neymar, Messi, Fabregas
Players to watch-out for: Andres Iniesta (Barcelona); Thibaut Courtois (Atletico Madrid)
Prediction: Atletico Madrid 1-0 Barcelona