Barcelona, Atletico clash

by

April 05, 2016
FC Barcelona's stars (from right) Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez.

MADRID (AP):

The Spanish rivalry between Barcelona and Atletico Madrid returns to the Champions League, this time with gritty Atletico filled with confidence and powerful Barcelona struggling.

The teams have been duelling the entire season in the Spanish league, where Barcelona had been dominant until their title chances were dented by two consecutive setbacks, including a home loss to Real Madrid last weekend.

Atletico routed Real Betis to finally get within range of the league title, and enter today's Champions League quarterfinals knowing that Barcelona have lost some of their confidence and can be beaten.

Atletico eliminated Barcelona in the quarterfinals of the 2013-14 season, the only time the teams met in the European tournament. They played to a 1-1 draw in Barcelona and Atletico won 1-0 in Madrid in the return match.

"Every game against Barcelona is different," Atletico coach Diego Simeone said. "We have to prepare as well as possible to be able to reach our goal against them."

With Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar thriving, Barcelona appeared to be cruising toward their goal of repeating last season's treble of capturing the Spanish league, Champions League and Copa del Rey titles.

Two weeks ago, however, the team wasted a 2-0 lead and were forced to settle for a 2-2 draw at Villarreal. Then came the 2-1 loss to Madrid on Saturday.

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