After Wednesday night there were only 8 teams left in the Champions League competition and on Friday at 11am the Quarter-Final draw took place. With only Europe’s finest left in the tournament it is no surprise we have ended up with some superb encounters coming soon. First off all lets look at the first teams to come out of the hat.
Barcelona v Athletico Madrid
These two sides have been battling it out with Real Madrid for the La liga title all season, but this will be the first time the teams have competed in a European competition. This season the sides have faced each other on 3 occasions, once in the league and twice in the super cup, and all of these games ended in draws.
Athletico are the surprise team in the competition so far, they have been a pleasure to watch this season as Diego Simeone has developed a truly world-class team. The team is extremely well-drilled , disciplined and are exceptionally good at transitioning from defence to attack and vice-versa. With a front line that consists of Diego Costa and David Villa they have found no difficulties scoring in this competition and at the other end with Thibaut Courtois in goal they have a top-notch keeper. The team are also currently unbeaten in Europe so they will go into their Quarter-Final tie oozing with confidence.
Barcelona are a team that have not yet showed their full potential against a world-class opponent, Tata Martino has undoubtedly added his own touch to the Catalan side since he took over. He has brought in a more pragmatic approach in games when it is required, meaning the side now have other variations of their play making them slightly less predictable, which has always been a criticism of them in the past. Tata has also brought back some of the Barça of old, he has re-introduced the pressing game that seemed to vanish under Villanova and unsurprisingly it has worked to great effect. Barcelona also have the privilege of Messi as he has recently returned back from his injury and he appears to be coming back into his unstoppable form at just the right time. As long as Messi can stay fit for the tie against Athletico then the Blaugrana side should feel they can go all the way in the competition.
The former Brazilian now Spanish international has had a magnificent season so far, but he is coming up against a world-class defender in Pique and if he is able to nullify him then this cuts out Athletico’s main route of attack. However if Costa’s class prevails then the whole Barça back line will be under severe pressure.
The Catalonian has yet again been the unsung hero in this Barca side, he will play an integral role in breaking up Athletico’s play and setting the tempo for the match. He will be required to offer protection to the back four and shield them, if he cannot fulfil his role than the back-line will experience havoc as they will have 4 players running straight at them. He sets the equilibrium for the team, a poor game by him will profoundly affect the game.
First leg: Barcelona 2-1 Athletico Madrid
Second leg: Athletico Madrid 1-1 Barcelona
Barcelona to win 3-2 over 2 legs and progress to the next round.