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Barca, Atletico, and Real and their Champions League fate
- Updated: 22 March, 2014
Friday’s draw for the quarter-final stage of the Champions League has produced an intriguing all Spanish affair between Barcelona and Atletico Madrid.
Arguably the toughest tie to call, Atletico Madrid and Barcelona have built up quite the rivalry this season, having already faced each other three times – all of which ended in a draw. Yet the expectations between the two clubs couldn’t be more different. For the Catalans, anything less than lifting the trophy in Lisbon will be considered a failure and with manager Tata Martino’s future being discussed on an almost daily basis, the pressure will be heaped on Barcelona to progress.
Atletico on the other hand haven’t been this far in over 10 years, and even the staunchest of Atletico fan would have been hard pressed to have predicted how well Diego Simeone’s side has faired – both domestically and in the Champions League – this season. And with the lack of expectation, comes a lack of pressure, a reigns are off approach to the game if you will. Make no mistake, Atletico will be wanting to progress, but a semi final appearance would be an added bonus and not the bare minumum.
It will be a mouth-watering tie, and with second leg being at the Vincente Calderon, it may give Los Rojiblancos a small advantage. If they can keep it tight in Barcelona and contain Messi as they have previously done so far this season, they have more than a chance. It’s a total contrast in footballing styles, Barca’s well famed ‘tika-taka’ against Atletico’s more physical approach which is superbly complimeted by touches of panache from the likes of Koke and Arda Turan.
A tie that will be as intriguing as it will be entertaining. It’s impossible to predict a winner at this stage.
In the Spanish capital, revenge will be on the minds of Real Madrid as they face Dortmund, the side that eliminated them from the competition at the semi-final stage last season.
However the form and performance of the two teams couldn’t be any more contrasting than it was this time last year, with Madrid in nothing short of sensational form. In recent times they have almost wiped the floor with all opponents – especially in this competition, none more so than their desolation of Dortmund’s Ruhr rivals Schalke 9-2 on aggregate, which included a magnificent 6-1 victory in Gelsenkirchen at the Veltins- Arena.
The form of both sides will mean that Madrid will be heavy favourites to book their place in the semi-final as they chance that elusive 10th European Cup.
The injuries and suspensions that the German side have accumulated will also play into the hands of Ancelotti, most notably the fact that last season’s four-goal Robert Lewandowski will be suspended for the first leg. Carlo Ancelotti will fancy his side to go through quite comfortably especially when you take a look at some of the individual battles in the wider areas. Ronaldo and Bale will be up against youngster Eric Durm and the defensively erratic Pole Lukas Piszczek. This will be a sure-fire area that Madrid will look to exploit.
The sheer strength of the respective squads and that feeling of revenge should see Real Madrid book their place in the next round.Follow @icentrocampista