Atletico Madrid will host Barcelona in the second leg of the UEFA Champions League quarter-final at the Estadio Vicente Calderon in the Spanish capital late on Wednesday evening in a bid to advance to what would be their first semi-final appearance since 1974.
In the first leg at Barcelona last Tuesday, Atletico opened the scoring in the 56th minute with a stunning Diego shot. The Catalans, however, got back in the match with an equalizer by the Brazilian Neymar in the 71st minute. The match ended 1-1, and the visitors left with a slender away goal advantage.
Atletico, who are among the top eight teams in the competition for the first time since 1997, will be without the services of main striker Diego Costa who had limped out of the first leg with an injured hamstring. Costa sat out his team’s 1-0 victory over Villarreal in the La Liga over the weekend. Winger Arda Turan may also be not available for this match due to a groin injury.
Barcelona will be looking to make the most of the tournament this year around after FIFA handed them a two-window transfer ban only a day after last week’s match. The ban was implemented due to some irregularities found in the transfer dealings of youth team players.
The Catalans are looking to enter their seventh successive semi-final in Europe’s premier football competition. However, the away side will be without the services of Victor Valdes, Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique for the second leg.
The rivalry between these two clubs is heating up in the domestic league as well with Atletico leading the La Liga table with 79 points from 32 games, and Barcelona only a point behind in the second position.
Atletico will take heart from the fact that they have won 16 of their last 17 home games in all competitions. Manager Diego Simeone will be hoping his side can keep up their formidable home reputation. However, Barcelona will not be patronized by that statistic as they have not lost at Atletico in the last four years.
The two teams have met four times previously in this season, and with little to choose between the two, the matches have all ended in draws.