Barcelona looking to bounce back against Atletico

BARCELONA • Spanish league leaders Barcelona's 39-match unbeaten run may have ended with last Saturday's La Liga home defeat by Real Madrid, but the European champions are adamant it was a temporary blip on their road to more glory.

Atletico Madrid will have taken real heart from their neighbours' 2-1 victory at the Nou Camp. Tonight, they go to the same venue for their Champions League quarter-final first leg believing they can repeat their triumph over the Catalans at the same stage in 2014.

Yet, as the shockwaves reverberated throughout the European game after Barcelona's late setback against 10-man Real, Barcelona's captain Andres Iniesta told reporters: "This game won't affect our mentality on Tuesday. Everyone is hurting after losing but we have to analyse what we did wrong so we don't repeat the mistakes."

Atletico, who gave themselves an ideal send-off for the trip to Barca by thrashing Real Betis 5-1, are in confident mood even if recent history points to a Barcelona win.

Barcelona coach Luis Enrique has a perfect record against his Atletico counterpart Diego Simeone, having won all six of his games against the side from Madrid.

Yet Barcelona know exactly what a formidable opponent the Argentinian remains as he masterminded their exit two years ago, winning the quarter-final tie 2-1 on aggregate after securing a 1-1 draw in the second leg at the Nou Camp.

Atletico's Spanish international Juanfran said this time, with his side enjoying the advantage of playing at home in the second leg, the primary aim is to stay in the tie.

"We're going there feeling very strong and our aim is to play well over there," the defender told Canal Plus.

"It's all about coming back from the Nou Camp with the game still alive so we can try and win the tie at our place."

In Germany, Bayern Munich will be eager to avoid suffering another slip-up to Portuguese opposition in the Champions League quarter-finals when they host Benfica in their first-leg tie tonight.

Pep Guardiola's side were humbled 3-1 away by Porto at the same stage of the competition last season in the first leg before roaring back with a 6-1 victory in Munich to reach the semi-finals with a 7-4 aggregate win.

After Bayern beat last season's finalists Juventus 6-4 on aggregate in the last 16, the German media seem to think their passage into the semi-finals is a foregone conclusion.

But the Bavarian side insist on taking nothing for granted. "The game is dangerous. We have to remind ourselves about what we experienced in Porto last year," said Bayern forward Mario Goetze.



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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 05, 2016, with the headline 'Barcelona looking to bounce back against Atletico'. Print Edition | Subscribe