Barcelona face Atletico Madrid in the Champions League quarter finals and this would be the fourth time the two sides are locking horns this season.
Barcelona manager knows that Atletico would prove to be a difficult side to face in the crucial match as they play with tremendous energy. He said, in his pre-match conference:
“They are strong and confident domestically and in Europe.
“The key to winning the game will be in matching the intensity that they bring to the game. We have to have the confidence in our ability to play an ordered game – if we play as we can then we have a great chance of going through”.
Martino knows the importance of a potential away goal Atletico will try to score and cautioned his players:
“We have to be careful about giving the ball away and leaving spaces for them to hit us on the counter. I’m not expecting an open game, but Atletico will come and look to score for the away goal. We have to make sure that we win and also that we don’t concede – that will give us a degree of confidence going into the second leg”.
Barcelona boss also made it clear that his side would need to be ‘brave’ and would have to use that as a main quality to get the desired result, likening it to his side’s performance in the match against Real Madrid, a few days back:
“Without bravery, these guys wouldn’t have won and nor would they be where they are now. I know I can count on them to be brave again”.
Martino was delighted that he would get to play Messi from the start:
“The big difference now is that we’ll have Messi from the start. But the other difference is the competition that we’ll be playing in”, said the Barcelona manager.
“They both know what is needed at every moment in a game and they know how to make the right choice. “they understand what their teams need at any given moment, they know how to choose the best move for every situation and they do everything right from making these decisions through to implementing them. It’s hard to find a player to compare to Andrés. He’s one of those unique players who sometimes appear”.
Martino also talked about Neymar and Xavi:
“Neymar can be decisive in all three roles upfront. Xavi is coming into the end of the season in great form and that shows that the rotations we’ve done have worked”