Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone. Photo: Reuters
BARCELONA Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone again expects a clash of football styles when his side visit Barcelona in the quarter-finals of the Champions League on Tuesday.
Simeone's side lead Barca by a point at the top of La Liga and while Barca have found success through their quick passing football, winning the Champions League in 2009 and 2011, Atletico have employed a more dogged approach based on a solid defence and where they seek to wear down opponents.
"It will be a game between two teams with different ways of playing and we will see who comes out on top. They will try to keep hold of the ball and we will concentrate on controlling the spaces," Simeone told a news conference on Monday ahead of the first-leg meeting.
"So far we have played in the (domestic) Super Cup, reached the semi-finals of the (King's) cup, then we have the league and the Champions League. This is a fantastic group to work with and who as a team are continuing to grow each day. Work is the key - it is simple."
The match is being billed as a head-to-head between Lionel Messi and Diego Costa who both lead their teams from the front.
Costa has been in prolific form for Atletico this season with 25 goals in La Liga while Messi is now back to his best after an injury plagued start to the campaign.
He faces Atletico at the Camp Nou with 17 goals from his last 12 outings.
"Messi for Barcelona, Ronaldo for Madrid and Diego Costa for us, they are all crucial players for their own teams and are all performing at a high level at the moment," said Simeone.
"Diego is improving all the time and with Messi you can now notice the benefits of the two months off that he had as he is looking stronger."
Atletico have already faced Barca three times this season when they have drawn on each occasion. Twice in the domestic Super Cup in which Barca won on away goals and also in the league which ended 0-0 at the Calderon.
The Catalan side has hit form in recent weeks with a victory over Manchester City in Europe and then a win over Real Madrid at the Bernabeu, and Simeone believes that his side now faces a tougher task.
"Of the games that we have played so far this is going to be the hardest. In the first we were at home, then they weren't playing as well and in the third Messi was only just returning
"Now we are going to see the best Barcelona and they are going to want to try finish off the tie here."