Atletico Madrid midfielder Koke is convinced that his side could pull off a major upset and knock Barcelona out of the UEFA Champions League in the second leg of their quarter-final tie on Wednesday.
Koke’s influence on a game is undeniable and the midfielder will look to inspire his team to victory over European champions Barcelona on Wednesday. With an impressive record of 12 assists and 4 goals in the 2015-16 La Liga campaign, the Spaniard has once again been crucial to Diego Simeone’s plans. His desire to close down the opposition and his strong tackling have been essential to the development and evolution of Atletico Madrid’s style of play.
The 24-year-old was in bullish mood ahead of his side’s meeting against Barcelona, expressing his confidence that the hosts could go through to the semi-final in front of the home fans.
Koke was quoted by Mundo Deportivo ahead of the game as saying, “On Wednesday, the stadium will be rocking and we can win. It’s going to be a beautiful night, certainly. We obviously believe in turning the tie around.
“If we didn’t believe, we wouldn’t play football. We have the right mentality to go through. Unfortunately we couldn’t win the first leg because of different circumstances, but we are going to qualify at home.”
Koke the key for Atletico Madrid
A brief look at the eventful first leg of the quarter-final between the two Spanish teams reveals Koke’s outstanding creativity and quick thinking. It was his beautifully weighted through ball that found Fernando Torres for the opening goal of the game.
Koke’s performance against Espanyol over the weekend saw him collect two assists in typical fashion. The second was particularly sublime — a lofted through ball picking out Torres’ run, who duly finished the move. He has an impressive pass accuracy of 83% and his range will have Barcelona worried.
However, Atletico’s tendency to sit back and allow Barcelona to play their own game might curb Koke’s brilliance. In order to utilize him and his creativity to the fullest, Diego Simeone must rally his troops to have a go at the Calderon. Sources close to the club claim that Atletico will operate with two strikers, with one of Yannick Carrasco, Angel Correa or Luciano Vietto playing alongside top scorer Antoine Griezmann up front.
If Koke can play at his best level, Atletico have a great chance of repeating their feat from 2013-14 and knocking Barcelona out of the competition at the quarter-final stage.