Following a break of nearly a month, the UEFA Champions League returns as we have our eight quarterfinalists: four former champions and four non-champions of the tournament. In what seems to be the most tastful of all the four matches, FC Barcelona, the defending champions, host Atletico Madrid in a rematch of the 2013-14 quarter-final in which Atletico Madrid became the victors.
FC Barcelona's take
19 goals for and five against from this Catalan side is outstanding, all due in part to the magificant trident of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar up front for Luis Enrique's men. However, on Saturday night when they hosted Real Madrid in El Clasico, they lost 2-1 and the ''MSN'' was not as flashy as they were to be. Nevertheless, Gerard Pique is looking to take that defeat off his mind and focus on what he calls a tougher game tomorrow than it was just two days ago. ''Saturday's defeat was like any other, we had gone 39 games unbeaten before and now we have a unique opportunity to return to winning ways in a great match.'' admitted the center back.
Barcelona would have came into this match with 40 matches unbeaten in all competitions going back since October. However, they are still unbeaten in the UEFA Champions League which gives them the advantage just a bit. Manager Luis Enrique has had history playing against Los Colchoneros, playing against them four times last season in La Liga and in the Copa del Rey. He praised Diego Simeone's side by saying that ''They are a top team with a clear philosophy; they are dangerous on the counter and pressure you up high.''
Atletico Madrid's take
If there is anything that Diego Simeone wants to do is repeat history just like he did two years ago when he faced Barcelona in this very stage in 2014. Much of the same can be said from those games two years ago. For instance, Barcelona will be hosting the first leg whilst Atletico host the second, giving the away side for tomorrow's match the advantage. In 2014, the match ended in a 1-1 draw at the Camp Nou and then a goal from Koke gave them the 1-0 victory at the Vicente Calderon in the second leg.
Nevertheless, El Cholo wants nothing other than a win, which in the Argentine's mind, is a good result. While Luis Suarez was not apart of that team two years, Neymar and Lionel Messi were. Still, Simeone has made it clear that the Barcelona trident is one of the best in the world. ''We are used to seeing them, with all the individual qualities that make Barcelona even better. Hopefully they will face the best of us as well.'', said the Argentine.
In team news, Diego Godin returns to the side following an injury that kept him out of action for Atletico Madrid and is expected to return to the side, while Tiago is out (broken leg) and Jose Maria Giménez (hamstring), Óliver Torres (groin) and Gámez (bruised leg) are all doubtful. For the home side, Sandro (hamstring), Adriano (hamstring), Jeremy Mathieu (knee) are all out.
Predicted Barcelona XI: Ter Stegen; Alves, Piqué, Mascherano, Alba; Busquets; Rakitić, Iniesta; Messi, Suárez, Neymar.
Predicted Atletico Madrid XI: Oblak; Juanfran, Savić, Godín, Filipe Luís; Gabi, Saúl, Augusto, Koke; Griezmann, Torres.