Although the Catalans lead the first leg with a crucial away goal at Vicente Calderon, Luis Enrique knows well that Atletico are quite capable of turning the tables and erase the slim lead and his reserved team selection in the weekend pretty much sums up his concern. Here is the predicted line-up Barcelona are likely to play against Atletico in the all-important second leg.
Barcelona were unfortunate to see Gerard Pique limping off from their La Liga match against Athletic Bilbao last weekend and the Spanish international is unlikely to feature in the high-octane Copa del Rey match against Atletico Madrid.
Ter Stegen is expected to start under the bar in the crucial match and Enrique would expect his German shot-stopper to be at his very best against the dangerous Antoine Greizmann.
The back-four is expected to feature Jordi Alba, Samuel Umtiti, Javier Mascherano and Sergi Roberto. Alba was left unused on the bench in the weekend’s game against Bilbao as the manager was cautious about preserving his precious runs on the flank to use against Atletico. Umtiti started as the full-back in the weekend and should fall back to his centre-half position for this game.
Mascherano came on for the yellow-carded Pique last Saturday and should continue to take his place as the centre-half alongside Umtiti on Wednesday. Sergi Roberto started from the bench on Saturday and replaced Lionel Messi in the final quarter of the game. We expect him to play a more mobile role this time as the right wing back with Enrique instructing him to go on the offensive at every opportunity.
With Javier Mascherano pushing back to the backline replacing Pique, Andre Gomez is expected to start as the anchor man with Ivan Rakitic and Arda Turan as the advancing midfielders. The first-choice Sergio Busquets is out with a sprained ankle and his return for the game is doubtful.
Although Rafinha started in the midfield for the Catalans and was quite impressive, given Atletico’s physical attribute in their gameplay, Enrique is likely to deploy the combative Arda Turan in the centre. The duo of him and Rakitic can give perfect balance to the midfield both in the attack and the defence.
The trio of Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi and Neymar will start the game. Suarez was left unused in the weekend’s game and will definitely have to play a significant role this time. Barca’s lead is quite slim in the two-legged game and the only way to assure a win is early dominance, which will rest heavily on the trio.
Neymar – Suarez – Messi
Turan – Gomes – Rakitic
Alba – Umtiti – Mascherano – Roberto
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