The top two in La Liga will take their rivalry to the continental stage as Barcelona host Atletico Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday in what will be the 50th all—Spanish UEFA competition fixture.
Atletico currently sit on top in Spain, a point ahead of defending champions Barca, but the record between the two sides is weighted heavily in favour of the Catalan giants, who have not lost a Champions League quarter-final match since 2003.
Tonight’s fixture will be the fourth between the two sides this season with the previous three ending in a draw. The last time Atletico claimed all three points at the Camp Nou was in 2006 when Fernando Torres scored twice. Their last win over Barca was in 2010, when they beat them at the Vicente Calderon.
Barcelona are looking to book their seventh successive semi-final appearance in the Champions League, but will also have to shatter their bad record against Spanish opposition in the Champions League: having only won two of six clashes.
Atletico have not reached the semi-finals since 1974, but along with city rivals Real, they remain the only two undefeated teams in the Champions League this season. It is also interesting to know that the match pits two Argentine coaches against each other in the shape of Gerardo Martino and Diego Simeone.
In the other big clash of the night, Manchester United play host Bayern Munich at Old Trafford aiming to upset the odds against the reigning World and European champions. The Red Devils have been wobbling in the league and being crowned kings of the continent seem to be their best chance of returning to Europe’s premier club competition next season.
David Moyes’ men can take heart from the fact that they overturned a two-goal deficit on home soil against Greek opposition in the previous round but should also know that Bayern is a different opponent. Ensuring that they head to the Allianz Arena still in the tie will be the aim for United but they will have to work their socks off for such privilege.
The German giants are in a good position to become the first side to successfully defend a Champions League crown and are already guaranteed to be celebrating a third consecutive Bundesliga title at the end of the campaign.
Bayern have already sent one English side packing from Europe (Arsenal) in the last 16 and will feel that they are well equipped to make it back-to-back successes against Premier League foes. Halting the Bayern juggernaut will be no easy task, but United have left themselves with little margin for error and will once again be calling upon the spirit of 1999 to conjure up a European fairytale.