preview | 2017-02-07
Match Preview - Spanish Cup Semifinals - Barcelona vs Atlético Madrid
Barça aims to capitalize on the win at the Calderón as Simeone's men visit the Camp Nou seeking to turn the tie around
Barcelona will attempt to reach a sixth Copa del Rey Final in seven years when they host Atlético Madrid in the second leg of the semi-final on Tuesday night. Barça hold a 2-1 advantage from the first leg thanks to goals from Luis Suárez and Lionel Messi. Antoine Griezmann’s second half header got Atleti back into the tie and now Diego Simeone’s side know that they have to score at least twice if they are to have any chance of reaching the Final.
Barcelona's first leg advantage may be slender but with the second leg at Camp Nou they are very well placed to progress as Atlético have failed to win away to Barcelona in their last 16 meetings. Atleti’s last win at Camp Nou came in February 2006 when two goals from Fernando Torres and one from Maxi Rodriguez were enough to secure a 3-1 win over Barcelona whose solitary goal came from Henrik Larsson.
Last Wednesday's first leg was very much a game of two halves with Barcelona dominant in the first half before Atlético took control in the second 45 minutes. Suárez and Messi both scored excellent individual efforts and Luis Enrique had his tactics spot on with three more defensive minded players in midfield and Messi just ahead of them looking to set up Barcelona attacks. Off the ball Neymar and Suárez were tracking back to support the full backs and Barcelona looked much the better team but the dynamic changed after half time. Atlético pulled one back when they worked a clever free kick that saw Diego Godin assist on a Griezmann headed goal and Diego Simeone’s side pushed hard for the equaliser. Barcelona made a few changes to their midfield in the second half with Denis Suárez and Rafinha coming on which gave them more of an attacking shape but it almost backfired with Barça looking disjointed and Atleti missed several good chances to level the scores and Barça just about managed to hold onto the lead until full time on the night and half time in the tie.
Both sides won in La Liga at the weekend with Barcelona beating Athletic Club 3-0 and Atlético beat Leganés 2-0. Barcelona were able to rest a few of their starters in the game with Luis Suárez sitting the game out and Messi even being subbed off in the second half. However, Luis Enrique did lose two players to injury during the game with Gerard Piqué and Rafinha picking up knocks which could see them miss out on Tuesday night. Barça might have Andrés Iniesta and Sergio Busquets back for the game with both believed to be close to receiving medical clearance over the next few days although Tuesday may prove to be too soon. Diego Simeone didn’t make too many changes to his starting eleven on Saturday although his Atleti squad is already stretched and he will most likely be without Tiago Mendes, Augusto Fernández, Jan Oblak and José María Giménez for the trip to Barcelona.
Barcelona will be strong favourites to win the tie with a lot of the hard work done in last weeks win at the Vicente Calderón but Atlético are not a side that can ever be taken lightly. If Piqué is unavailable it will be a huge blow to Luis Enrique as the defence looked a little shaky at the weekend. Piqué wasn’t without blame and made an error himself that could have led to an Athletic goal but he is still the team’s best defender and with Atlético needing to score at least twice it is likely that they will come with more of an offensive style than we are used to seeing from them and they do have individual players who can hurt Barcelona if given the chance. However, Atleti’s need to push forward could leave their defence exposed and MSN generally don’t need to be asked twice to take advantage of any weaknesses and they should have the tools required to help Barcelona continue on their path to what will hopefully be a third successive Copa del Rey title.
Tueday’s game will be refereed by Jesus Gil Manzano. In his last five refereeing Barcelona they have won three, drew one and lost one. He has booked 12 Barcelona players and awarded the team one penalty. In his last five in charge of Atlético they have won three and lost two. In those five games he has shown Atleti players 19 yellow cards and two red cards as well as awarding one penalty for them and one against them.
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