Barcelona to remain ‘open-minded’ about Atlético

4 Apr

Possible lineups
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Alves, Piqué, Mascherano, Alba; Busquets; Rakitić, Iniesta; Messi, Suárez, Neymar.
Out: Sandro (hamstring), Adriano (hamstring), Mathieu (knee)
Doubtful: none
Misses next match if booked: none

Atlético: Oblak; Juanfran, Savić, Godín, Filipe Luís; Gabi, Saúl, Augusto, Koke; Griezmann, Torres.
Out: Tiago (broken leg)
Doubtful: Giménez (hamstring), Óliver Torres (groin), Gámez (bruised leg)
Misses next match if booked: Óliver Torres

Highlights of these teams’ 2014 encounter

Luis Enrique, Barcelona coach
We have played Atlético a few times in the last couple of years but we need to analyse them and be open-minded because they may play differently this time. They are a top team with a clear philosophy; they are dangerous on the counter and pressure you up high.

The game against Real Madrid was good for 65 minutes. Of course we made mistakes, but that is normal when your opponents are a quality team. We are not machines and I’m satisfied with what I saw. We had almost forgotten how it felt to lose, but I hope it will be motivation for us to get back on a winning streak again.

[Atlético] have amazing individual quality with [Antoine] Griezmann and [Fernando] Torres. They have many ways of causing us trouble and can hurt us on set pieces and transitions.

Diego Simeone, Atlético coach
Both teams know each other very well. so I don’t think there is much room for surprise. They play a specific type of football and they play spectacular well under Luis Enrique.

I don’t think Barcelona’s defeat by Real Madrid will affect our game. We always expect the best of Barcelona. They will definitely be up for it, playing at home. They are strong, tough opponents.

We are used to seeing MSN [Messi, Suárez, Neymar], with all the individual qualities that make Barcelona even better. Hopefully they will face the best of us as well. It is important that all my players understand that one minute on the pitch will be a lifetime.

Johan Cruyff’s Barcelona legacy

Weekend results
Barcelona 1-2 Real Madrid (Piqué 56; Benzema 62, Ronaldo 84)
Preceded by a minute’s silence observed by the 99,264 crowd for Johan Cruyff, the match was dominated by Barcelona in the early stages. The deadlock was broken when Gerard Piqué headed in Ivan Rakitić’s corner, only for Karim Benzema to level after Marcelo found Toni Kroos to cross. Sergio Ramos was sent off late on, yet it was the visitors who prevailed as Ronaldo chested down a Gareth Bale centre and finished at an angle.

Atlético 5-1 Betis (Torres 37, Griezmann 42 81, Juanfran 65, Partey 90+1; Rubén Castro 79)
Second-placed Atlético moved within six points of Barcelona after this five-goal salvo against Betis. With defensive injuries, Diego Simeone gave Nacho Monsalve a Liga debut at the back but the action was at the other end once Fernando Torres finally put the capital side ahead. Antoine Griezmann now has 19 Liga goals this term.

Form guide (all competitions, most recent first)
Barcelona: LDWWWW
Atlético: WLDWWW

Gerard Piqué exclusive interview

Reporter’s view: Graham Hunter (@BumperGraham)
It’s almost exactly two years since Atlético eliminated Barcelona from the UEFA Champions League en route to the Lisbon final. As Diego Simeone prepares to try and emulate that feat, he could well have watched Barça’s defeat by Real Madrid and seen some encouraging signs – despite the fact his side have lost to the Azulgrana six times on the bounce. For Luis Enrique, the challenge is to help his team freshen up mentally and physically just three days after their epic unbeaten run was ended in the Clásico.

Did you know?
Lionel Messi has scored 25 goals in 28 games against Atlético, including three hat-tricks. No other player has struck more against the Rojiblancos. A whole host of other stats and facts are available in our match background.


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