As Champions League enter into its Quarter-finals round, Spanish La Liga leaders visit second placed Barcelona in a mouth-watering tie. To be played at the Camp Nou, this Champions League tie will feature two of the Spainai??i??s best teams and has all the makings of an incredible football fiesta.

On one hand, there is Barcelona, playing at home as they look to regain their lost form. One of the most successful teams of this century, Barcelona is currently playing a level or two below potential. In stark contrast, their opponents Atletico Madrid, are playing the best football they have played in decades. Operating on a super-human level, Atletico Madrid have shown themselves to be serious contenders as they stand unbeaten in Europe this season.

Here are three key-battles that will shape the first leg of this Champions League tie.

Lionel Messi vs Godin and Miranda

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The little Argentine might not be on his best form but he showed again against Real Madrid that he was a player born for the big games. And if Barcelona are to reach another Champions League semi-finals then they will have to depend on Messi to carry the team. No longer the same force that he used to be since returning from his injury, Messi still has the ability to tear apart teams with his mesmerizing runs and accurate passes.

His battle with the two Atletico Madrid centre-backs will be a crucial one for the tie and if Ateltico Madrid are to keep Barcelona at bay then Godin and Miranda will have to step up their game. Atletico Madrid has been very strong defensively and have the best defensive record in the La Liga. They have managed to contain Barcelona in the previous three encounters this season largely due to their defensive solidity. If Messi fails to win his duel with Godin and Miranda then Barcelona might find themselves lacking firepower as Neymar has been largely unpredictable in his performance ever since he returned from his injury.

Diego Costa vs Pique and Mascherano

What Lionel Messi is to Barcelona, Diego Costa is to Atletico Madrid and much more. The focal point of Atletico Madrid, Costa has been brilliant for Atletico this season and is single handedly responsible for their position in the La Liga this season. A complete striker, Costa is strikingly inventive and extremely accurate in front of the goal and almost always finds a way to put the ball at the back of the net.

Pique and Mascherano have both been extremely unpredictable at the back and with Victor Valdes out, Barcelona will have to keep an eye on Costa if they hope to keep the striker from scoring at the Camp Nou. Diego Costaai??i??s bullying presence and his desire to win at any cost means that will pull out a brilliant trick at one moment and then dive maliciously the next to make sure his team scores. Defenders often struggle to keep track of his unpredictability which has worked in his favour at Madrid and this battle will be very crucial in determining the final score of the first tie.

Xavi vs Gabi

The two club captains will be locked in an interesting battle in the centre of the pitch to dominate the midfield and the outcome could very well decide which way the ball would move at Camp Nou on Tuesday. Xavi is the go-to-man at Barcleona and is the one who controls the reins. His deft movement and intelligent distribution of the ball is singularly responsible for Barcelonaai??i??s complete midfield dominance in recent years. Gabi too has led Atletico Madrid from the front and his presence in the midfield has ensured stability for the Los Rojiblancos. Extremely intense in his approach to the game, Gabi will have quite a few responsibilities on Tuesday, including keeping an eye on Xavi to make sure that the Spaniard does not boss around the midfield. The winner of this battle will undoubtedly tilt the scale in his teamai??i??s favour and it remains to be seen which of the two emerges on top come Tuesday.

But perhaps the main battle will be fought off the field, between Diego Simeone and Tata Martino. While Diego Simeone has shown himself to be a master motivator and has managed to elevate a relatively mediocre Atletico Madrid to the cusp of greatness, Tata Martino has failed to inspire the Catalans and might be on his way out this summer.

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