Tension rises as Atletico, Barcelona aim for Champions League semis (Preview)

Madrid, April 12 (IANS) It promises to be a tense 90 minutes of football as Atletico Madrid and FC Barcelona battle it out for a place in the semi-finals of the Champions League here on Wednesday.

Barcelona will defend a 2-1 lead at the Vicente Calderon Stadium but Atletico know that the goal scored by striker Fernando Torres in Barcelona’s Camp Nou stadium a week ago means they only need to score once in order to qualify, advancing on the away goal rule, reports Xinhua news agency.

The atmosphere will be at fever pitch with Atletico feeling they were hard done to by the referee in the first leg having shown two yellow cards to Torres, who is suspended on Wednesday. Barcelona forward Luis Suarez was lucky not to be sent off for two off-the-ball incidents which went unpunished.

That is going to pile the pressure on referee Nicola Rizzoli as every challenge is going to be questioned from the stands, further complicating matters against an aggressive Atletico side.

Atletico coach Diego Simeone made a few alterations to his side in their weekend La Liga match and was rewarded with a 3-1 win away to Espanyol which saw Atletico close to within three points of Barcelona at the top of the domestic league.

Meanwhile, Barcelona’s Luis Enrique made a series of squad rotations as his men produced another flat display to lose against Real Sociedad 0-1 in La Liga on Saturday.

They will have to deal with Atletico’ s incessant pressure in central midfield as the home side will repeat their tactic of trying to rob the ball near Barcelona’s penalty area before launching striker Antoine Griezmann on the break.

With Torres suspended, Simeone will have to decide on a replacement and he will have to decide on whether to field an extra midfielder and allow more freedom to Saul, or to start with the pacey wingr Angel Correa.

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