Defending Champions League holders Barcelona host domestic rivals Atletico Madrid in the first leg of quarter finals at Camp Nou on Tuesday night.
Barcelona are unbeaten in this season’s Champions League competition, winning 6 and drawing 2 of their 8 fixtures. They have comprehensively beaten Arsenal on both legs of the round of sixteen wrapping the tie 5-1 on aggregate.
Atletico Madrid on the other hand were made to work hard by Dutch side PSV, who held them to a 0-0 stalemate on both legs, but eventually qualified by winning on penalties.
This is the third successive season that Atletico Madrid are drawn against Spanish opponents in the quarter finals of the competition. They eliminated Barcelona in 2013/14 season and went till the finals and in the 2014/15 season they lost to Madrid 1-0 on aggregate at the same stage.
Barcelona were tactically outplayed by Real Madrid in the 2-1 El Classico loss on 2nd April 2016. The defeat has put an end to a number of astonishing streaks this season.
Barcelona were unbeaten in 39 matches in all competition prior to the 1-2 home defeat to Real Madrid, which now stands at 32 wins, 7 draw, 1 defeat in their last 40 matches in all competitions.
The Blaugrana were also on a 11-match winning streak at home and have won 22 of their 24 home matches in all competitions so far this season.
Atletico Madrid are coming on the back of a 5-1 win over Real Betis, but tasted defeat in the previous matchday against Sporting Gijon, which is their only defeat in their last 11 matches in all competitions.
Ignoring the round of 16 tie in Champions League, Atletico have won in 5 of their last 6 matches and also scored at-least a goal in each of them.
Atletico’s last five matches in the league have seen over 2.5 goals.
Barcelona: Team News
Jérémy Mathieu is nursing a knee injury, while Adriano and Sandro Ramírez are out with hamstring injuries.
Rafinha Alcántara has returned to the substitute bench against Real Madrid after recovering from a ligament injury suffered during the 1–1 away draw at Roma on the matchday one of the Champions League.
Head coach Luis Enrique is likely to stick with his regular starting line-up despite the setback from Real Madrid at the weekend.
Barcelona: Expected Starting Line-up (4-3-3)
Ter Stegen – Alves, Alba, Mascherano, Pique – Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta – Messi, Suarez, Neymar.
Atletico Madrid: Team News
Midfielder Yannick Carrasco is still out with an ankle injury, while Saúl Ñíguez is also a doubt after picking up a knock during the 5-1 win over Betis.
There is ample a crisis in defense for Atletico as first team players Diego Godin, Stefan Savić and José Giménez and are out injured. And the the worry is worsened as young French defender Lucas Hernández is a doubt for the trip to Barcelona as he is suffering from back problem.
Atletico Madrid: Expected Starting Line-up (4-4-2)
Oblak – Felipe Luis, Hernandez, Monslave, Juanfran – Koke, Gabi, Fernández, Kranevitter, – Griezmann, Torres.
Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid: Head-to-Head stats
Since the 1-0 win in the second leg of 2013/14 Champions League quarter finals, Atletico have not beaten Barcelona in 7 meetings in all competitions.
Barcelona have won all of the last 6 meetings with Atletico Madrid regardless of the venue or competition.
Barcelona have not lost to Atletico at home since 2006 that stretches to 14 matches in all competition.
Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid: Prediction
Barcelona will be desperate to bounce back from the 2-1 home defeat against Real Madrid and will be giving their all on Tuesday night. Atletico Madrid on the other hand will not be the same threat as in previous occasions after missing a number of key players through injury, especially in defense.
If there is a way to stop Barcelona, it is by cutting off the supply to midfield trio of Rakitic, Iniesta and Busquets. And an inexperienced Atletico defense means MSN will look to run direct at them. These are pointing to a heavy win for Barcelona and the tie will be decided even before it reaches Vicente Calderón Stadium for the second leg on 13th April.
I predict a 3-0 win for Barcelona and I believe Simeone fielding an unfit Godin and Savic is only going to make things easier for the Blaugrana.
Recommended Bet: Barcelona to win at Half-Time @ 1.98