Barcelona will be out to bounce back from their recent stumble when they take on Atletico Madrid in the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final.
The 2-1 win in the first leg is the Catalan outfit’s only success in their last three games following back to back La Liga defeats to Real Madrid and Real Sociedad.
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While the club remain firmly on course for the Spanish title, cup and a place in the final four in Europe, the recent blip will have raised doubts about their capabilities to create history with back to back trebles.
Much of their recent lull in form has been down to the worst run of scoring form in five years for Lionel Messi. The mercurial Argentine is the main man at Barcelona and while they have a plethora of stars he is the driver.
Amazingly, the forward has not scored or provided an assist in four games. Not since April 2010 has the five-time world footballer of the year failed to contribute to a goal in four straight matches. Messi looked out of sorts against Atletico in the first leg and he will need to be at his best at the Vicente Calderon if Barcelona are to progress.
The meeting between these two will be the 11th since 2014 with Barcelona very much the dominant force. Luis Enrique’s side have won each of the last 7 meetings with three draws and just one for Atletico.
Enrique will be without Defenders Jeremy Mathieu and Thomas Vermaelen while Rafinha is also ruled out. Fernando Torres is suspended following his red card in the first leg while Uruguayan centre-back José Giménez has been unable to recover from a hamstring problem in time and misses out.
Atletico knocked Barcelona out of the 2014 Champions League with a 2-1 aggregate win following a 1-0 win at home and a similar result this time would also see them advance.