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FC Barcelona host Atlético Madrid for the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday, with the Catalans aiming to bounce back from Saturday’s Clásico defeat which ended a 39-match unbeaten streak.
Diego Simeone's side always provide a tough test: Atlético came out victorious when the two teams met at the same stage of the competition two years ago but, since the appointment of Luis Enrique, Barça have enjoyed a run of six straight wins against Los Rojiblancos.
Luis Enrique has opted to do without either Masip or Douglas, in addition to the injured Sandro, Adriano, Aleix Vidal and Mathieu.
So the definitive Barça squad is as follows; Ter Stegen, Bravo, Piqué, Rakitic, Sergio Busquets, Alves, Arda, Iniesta, Suárez, Messi, Neymar Jr, Rafinha, Mascherano, Bartra, Munir, Jordi Alba, Sergi Roberto and Vermaelen.
Atlético trio José María Giménez, Tiago Mendes and Óliver Torres are all ruled out through injury but Diego Simeone has received some positive news regarding another three important players
Stefan Savic, Diego Godín and Yannick Carrasco have recovered from respective knocks and managed to train at the Camp Nou on Monday, as did Jesús Gámez and Luciano Vietto but the latter duo are still touch-and-go.
Speaking to the media on Monday, Luis Enrique revealed his desire to dominate possession in the opposition half while limiting Atlético’s threat on the break.
"We will not change our style of play. We want to control the ball on their side of the field and ensure the fewest number of transitions to prevent counterattacks."
The Asturian also added that he would like his side “to win without conceding goals, if possible".
His counterpart made no secret of the importance that the first leg has on the two-legged affair, stating that Tuesday’s game “will be decisive and will mark the future of the tie,” befored adding: “We are preparing for a difficult game, tough and competitive, against the best Barça possible, but we will do all in our power to reduce their chances.”
The Catalans incredible unbeaten run of 39 matches was ended on Saturday in a 2-1 defeat to Real Madrid. Nevertheless, the Catalans have won 20 of their last 23 games at the Camp Nou, and their last ten in the Champions League.
Atlético are not on bad form either, having lost just one in their last eleven matches in all competitions, while they are unbeaten away from home in Europe this campaign with two draws and two victories.
The two sides met at the same stage of the competition in 2013/14 where they shared a 1-1 draw at Camp Nou before Atlético earned a 1-0 win in Madrid to go through to the semis.
It was a season in which the pair went head-to-head six times, with Barça unable to record a single win over Simeone’s side, despite claiming the Spanish Super Cup on away goals. Nevertheless, since the appointment of Luis Enrique in the summer of 2014, the Catalans have won all six encounters against Atlético, and they will be hoping to extend on Tuesday.
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