Martino Says Barca Must Match Athletico for Effort

Barcelona must deal with Atletico Madrid’s wit and strength, if they hope to progress in this season’s Champions League, says coach Gerardo Martino.

Both La Liga outfits meet at the Nou Camp this evening in a Champions League quarter-finals first-leg tie.

“We need to match Atletico’s intensity,” said Martino. “Our strength is playing as Barcelona always do, but we need to cope with their intensity.

“We need to try to win and not concede to give ourselves a margin for the second leg.”

Barcelona Are a Point Behind Atletico Madrid in the Spanish La Liga.
Barcelona Are a Point Behind Atletico Madrid in the Spanish La Liga.

The ‘Los Roji Blacos’ are top of the Spanish La Liga, one point ahead of their opponents. The two teams meet at the Nou Camp on the final day of the league season in a potential title decider.

The Argentine boss is however not stunned by coach Diego Simeone’s side’s rise to form. He added: “They have sustained a great level all season and last season too. They are in the final stages fighting for two competitions and it is clear how strong they are.”

Barca’s Pedro and Alex Song could return for the game after illness and injury but goalkeeper Victor Valdes is out with a knee ligament injury that will keep him sidelined until October. Jose Pinto, who manned the goal post in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Espanyol, is expected to fill in for the injured Spaniard.

Atletico will be without suspended midfielder Raul Garcia and injured defender Javi Manquillo.