This promises to be an intriguing tie, with Atletico Madrid going into Tuesday’s first-leg clash one point clear of Barcelona at the top of La Liga. Both sides have been in excellent form of late - Atletico winning their last six games in all competitions, Barcelona their last five.
The form of Lionel Messi has, as is so often the case, been key during that period - he has scored nine times, including back-to-back hat-tricks against Osasuna and Real Madrid. Messi has 36 goals in all competitions this season, but hasn’t netted against Atletico in his last four outings.
While Barcelona have scored 17 times in their last five games, the underpinning of Atletico’s consistent run has been their defence. Simeone’s side have kept four clean sheets out of six, conceding just two goals during that period.
Both teams have impressed in their run to the last eight. Barca, chasing a seventh straight semi-final appearance, progressed comfortably beyond Manchester City, while Atletico’s convincing 4-1 victory against Milan at Vicente Calderon - spearheaded by the prolific Diego Costa - was a further reminder of the vast talent in Simeone’s ranks. Atletico kept a clean sheet in the first leg at San Siro and keeping Messi et al out here is likely to be vital if they are to reach their first European Cup semi-final in 40 years.
KICK-OFF: Tuesday, 7.45pm
PAST THREE MEETINGS:
Atletico Madrid 0 Barcelona 0, La Liga, January 2014
Barcelona 0 Atletico Madrid 0, Spanish Super Cup, August 28, 2013
Atletico Madrid 1 (David Villa) Barcelona 1 (Neymar), Spanish Super Cup, August 21, 2013
Barcelona are unbeaten in their last nine matches against Atletico Madrid in all competitions, winning six and drawing three.
Atletico have not lost in the Champions League this season (won seven, drawn one).
Barcelona have reached the semi-final stage of the tournament in each of the last six years, winning the trophy in 2009 and 2011.
Tuesday’s visitors currently occupy top spot in La Liga, one point ahead of Barcelona – with Atletico travelling to Nou Camp on the last day of the league season.
Atletico have conceded just four goals in the Champions League this season, the fewest in the competition.
The sides have never met in the Champions League before.
Barcelona to win: 1.55
Atletico Madrid to win: 5.8
Atletico Madrid 4-3 Barcelona, March 1, 2009
Sergio Aguero struck an 89th-minute winner to secure victory for Atletico in a thrilling game at Vicente Calderon. Thierry Henry’s first-half brace had put Barcelona in control and, though Diego Forlan and Aguero struck either side of the break, Lionel Messi restored the visitors’ advantage after 73 minutes. But Forlan levelled from the spot before Aguero won it late on to cap a thrilling comeback.
TV: Live on Sky Sports 1 at 7.45pm.
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