It was said in the beginning when the quarterfinal draw was announced last month that this tie would be the hardest one to call. Following the 2-1 victory for defending UEFA Champions League winners FC Barcelona against Atletico Madrid, a lot is to be played at the Estadio Vicente Calderon, where Atletico Madrid is looking to repeat history of their quarterfinal in this competition just two years ago, winning 1-0 off a lone goal from Koke.
Los Colchoneros now have 90 minutes to turn around their 2-1 deficit and advance to the semifinals of the UEFA Champions League for the second time in three seasons. However, it will not be easy.
Diego Simeone has failed to beat his Spaniard counterpart, Luis Enrique, since the 45-year old took in charge of the Catalan giants in 2014. Nevertheless, the fiery Atletico boss is determined to break that winless streak tomorrow night in front of a home crowd.
''Being Atlético means being tenacious, competitive, never giving up and overcoming difficulties, '' the Argentine manager said in his pre-match press conference. The spirit of 2014 will surely be in play as four players who played that quarterfinal against Tata Martino's side will have to be a major influence, in an effort to knockout a strong Barcelona and deny the event of a side to retain Europe's premier club competition, something in which has never been done before in the current UEFA Champions League format. A goal could be enough to see them through on virtue of away goals.
Luis Enrique will have to hold on or score at least a few goals with the away goal rule in hand but it's been a bit tough for some critics to the Catalan club. Lionel Messi is in his first four-game run without scoring any goals since 2011 and have failed to win their last two league games, after coming off a 39 game unbeaten run in all competitions and where the league is just as close with their rivals being only three points short of the top of the table, where they currently occupy.
To Enrique, this match is still important and not one that will determine the Blaugrana's season. ''Tomorrow will be difficult like any UEFA Champions League tie', stated the Spanish manager. However, a few stats could come into play with Lucho's unbeaten streak against Simeone's men and that Barcelona have reached semifinals in seven of last eight seasons, the one that they missed was that 2014 affair. A lot will be played in the next 90 minutes in Madrid.
Fernando Torres is suspended due to this red card in the first leg, despite scoring the away goal while Tiago (broken leg) and Jose Maria Giménez (hamstring) are also out for the hosts.
For the visitors, Jeremy Mathieu (knee), Rafinha (adductor), Sandro (hamstring), Thomas Vermaelen (calf), Aleix Vidal (adductor) are all out.
Atletico Madrid predicted XI: Oblak; Juanfran, Godín, Hernández, Filipe Luís; Koke, Gabi, Augusto, Ñíguez; Griezmann, Carrasco.
Barcelona predicted XI: Ter Stegen; Alves, Piqué, Mascherano, Jordi Alba; Busquets, Rakitić, Iniesta; Messi, Neymar, Suárez.