Just 10 days after their last meeting at the Camp Nou, Barça and Atlético Madrid face each other once again on Wednesday night at 10.00pm (CET) in the first leg of the Spanish Cup quarter-finals. Lifted by their performance in the 3-1 win last time out, Luis Enrique’s team have hit a good patch of form as they go into the match.
Luis Enrique has announced an 18–man squad, with Xavi coming back into the squad after his injury lay off. Tiago and Ansaldi are the visitors’ only injury absentees.
The boss is well aware of the danger Atlético pose, warning at his pre-match press conference: “Atlético are a fearsome side over two legs … We are going to need a better attitude than them and to make the most of every footballing resource we have”. Diego Simeone meanwhile, insisted: “We are coming up against a Barcelona in form at the moment. I value a lot how they have improved without the ball”.
The 3-1 win over Atlético seemed like a real turning point for Luis Enrique’s side, who followed up what was probably their best performance of the season with a 0-4 Cup win over Elche and a dominant victory on the road in La Coruña. Atlético themselves knocked Real Madrid out of the Cup last week with a 2-2 draw at the Bernabéu and kept up with the leaders at the top of La Liga with a 2-0 win over Granada at the weekend.
Leo Messi’s 30th hat trick for the Club against Deportivo La Coruña was one more sign that he is getting back to his devastating best — and he does have a history against Atlético of course! Fernando Torres is again in the Atlético squad and after his stunning double against Madrid last week, he’s hungry to show he’s back with the big boys after re-joining Atlético. Atlético players Raúl García, Griezmann, Mandzukic and Godín are all just a yellow away from missing the return game.
The two sides are familiar foes in the Cup and the League – but we reckon this game has to be any Barça fan's favourite!
The game is being shown live by Sky Sports in the UK and beIN Sports in the US and remember, you can hear live commentary in English on R@dio Barça and receive live Twitter updates as the events unfold by following @fcbarcelona.