La Liga rivals Barcelona and Atletico Madrid will put their domestic rivalry to one side on Tuesday when they meet in the quarter-final of the Champions League.
The pair, along with Real Madrid, are jostling to claim the Spanish title with just three points separating the trio. Diego Simone’s Atletico side currently have the advantage as they lead the standings by one point from Barcelona.
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This will be the first meeting of the pair in the Champions League and their fourth meeting of the season to date.
Neither side has yet to claim a victory this season with three draws to date, although the 1-1 draw at the Estadio Vicente Calderón was enough for Barcelona to claim the Super Cup at the beginning of the season.
Both sides will be missing key men for the clash with Victor Valdes missing out for Barcelona and Javier Manquillo (neck) and the suspended Raul Garcia missing for Atletico.
The clash between the Argentine managers will be also be intriguing, the pair were both sent off in their native country in a game between Velez Sarsfield and Newell’s Old Boys when Martino was sent off for a challenge on a then teenage Simone who followed suit 10 minutes later.
Tuesday’s game promises to be equally intense with Atletico earning a reputation as an aggressive team under the guidance of Simone. In fact during their Super Cup final encounter, Atletico amassed 63 whistle-blowing fouls, nearly double their opponents and there promises to be more fireworks on Tuesday.
Barcelona warmed up for the meeting with a 1-0 win over Espanyol, secured thanks to the boot of Lionel Messi and after the game, Martino hailed his fellow Argentine
“With Messi on the pitch the story almost always ends the same way,” Martino told reporters.
“Winning here is important because it was a derby. You always have to win these matches, so we value the victory very much.
“All of the remaining games are very difficult. They are seven cup finals.”
Atletico meanwhile beat Athletic Bilbao 2-1 thanks to goals from Diego Costa, his sixth goals in his last five games and Koke.
While Atletico have re-emerged in recent years on both a domestic and European level; they are seeking to reach their first semi-final at this level in 40 years, Barcelona are old hands and have made the semi-finals in each of the last six seasons.