Atletico Madrid attempt to reverse history against Barcelona

Atletico Madrid heads into the second leg of their Copa del Rey quarter-final against Barcelona today trailing 1-0. Los Colchoneros have never beaten the Catalan club over a two-legged tie after losing the initial away match.

The timing of tonight’s game couldn’t come at a worse time for Diego Simeone’s side. Barcelona have been on fire recently, winning their previous six matches by a combined score of 23-1; and during that stretch Luis Enrique’s men have beaten Atletico Madrid twice.

Programming note: If you live in the United States, the game is being televised on beIN SPORTS and beIN SPORTS Español at 3pm ET/Noon PT as well as being streamed live on DishWorld. If you don’t have a TV subscription to beIN SPORTS, you can watch Atletico Madrid versus Barcelona live on DishWorld for just $10 per month. The service streams the beIN broadcast in HD to your computer, tablet or smartphone. And set-up just takes minutes. Read our review of DishWorld. And sign up for DishWorld via their website.

Lionel Messi has been Barcelona’s catalyst over the past six games. The Argentina international has scored eight times and assisted five goals while leading La Blaugrana’s resurgence.

The only time the diminutive forward struggled to create opportunities for himself or his teammates was last week against Atletico. But Simeone’s men were ultimately undone by the Argentine star man when Barcelona were awarded a penalty late in the match. Messi stepped to the spot and saw his initial attempt saved by goalkeeper Jan Oblak, but the forward reacted quickly and knocked his next attempt into the back of the net.

If Atletico Madrid are to overturn their first leg deficit, they are going to have to put in a similar shift in defense tonight at the Vicente Calderon – minus the penalty.

Diego Simeone has overseen eighteen two-legged ties since he started a renaissance in the Spanish capital three years ago. In those matches, Atletico have won 16 times with the two defeats coming in games where the team needed to turn the tie around in the return leg.

So history is not on Atletico Madrid’s side when they line up across from Barcelona tonight.

Another thing working against the Atleti is that Simeone will be unable to select defender Diego Godin due to the centre-back’s accumulation of yellow cards. The manager may also be without the services of his influential midfielder Koke who has been attempting to come back from an injury suffered during the first leg against Barcelona.

What Atletico do have in their favor is the in-form play of forward Antoine Griezmann. The France international will likely be paired with Fernando Torres to start the match, with Mario Mandzukic providing strength off the bench.

Griezmann has bagged seven goals in his last eight matches, with his only blips coming against Barcelona. The forward has failed to register a goal or an assist against the Catalan club in Atletico’s previous two encounters this season.

“It’s going to be a tough, but really interesting match,” Simeone said. “We’ll give it everything and together with the crowd’s support, we’ll try and go through. If we didn’t believe in turning the tie around, we wouldn’t go out on the pitch.”

Programming note: The second leg of the Copa del Rey quarter-final between Atletico Madrid and Barcelona will be shown LIVE today starting at 2:55pm EST on beIN SPORTS and DishWorld.

 

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