The Blaugrana will be favourites to progress to the semi-finals of the Champions League.
Tuesday’s match in the Catalan capital will be the fourth time that the two teams have confronted each other this season, with the sides sharing the spoils on each occasion.
However, the result is likely to be different tonight, as Barcelona are set to pick up a victory in the first leg encounter against their rivals.
And here are five reasons why.
Barcelona have not lost a single game at Camp Nou in the Champions League this campaign. The likes of Ajax, AC Milan, Celtic and Manchester City all have been vanquished with ease in the Catalan capital, while the Blaugrana have dropped just three points in La Liga in front of their own supporters all season. That was a narrow 3-2 loss to Valencia in February.
Lionel Messi is back on song and back on form from a spell on the sidelines with injury. The Argentina forward has scored in each of his last five matches for a total of nine times. The 26-year-old is looking like his best again and he will be keen to add to his eight goals he has already netted in the Champions League this season. At times this campaign Messi has looked frustrated with Barca’s style, but he still remains the world’s best footballer.
Momentum & Confidence
Barcelona have stumbled on occasions this year, but they are currently on a five-game winning streak in all competitions. Defeat to Real Valladolid last month was supposed to knock their confidence and blow out their season, but Gerardo Martino’s men have emerged stronger. Successive wins against Manchester City and Osasuna were followed by a hugely morale-boosting 4-3 triumph over Real Madrid in the Clasico at the Santiago Bernabeu. Since then, the Catalan giants have leapfrogged their rivals to third place in the league table, a point behind leaders Atletico Madrid.
Barcelona have reached the semi-finals of the Champions League for the past six seasons and know all about how not to panic and get desperate in such big matches. On the other hand, Diego Simeone’s side have qualified for the last eight of Europe’s premier club competition for the first since 1997 and have not progressed to the semi-finals for 40 years.
Diego Costa injury
This will be a big blow for Atletico Madrid. Diego Costa is one of the top strikers in entire Europe, having scored 32 goals in 34 games in all competitions this season. The Brazil-born Spain international is a major doubt for Los Rojiblancos tonight, as he is struggling with a thigh problem. The 25-year-old pulled out of his side’s training session at Camp Nou because of discomfort in his right thigh, the same problem that forced him to be substituted against Athletic Bilbao at the weekend. The absence of Costa is going to cost Atletico dear.
Will Atletico Madrid be able to stage an upset at Camp Nou tonight?