Preview: What awaits Atlético and Barcelona in Champions League quarters?

Two LaLiga sides will be taking part in the most unique Champions League quarter finals in history this week, with Atleti and Barça both set to face German opposition.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the format of the continental competition has been slightly changed for the remainder of the 2019/20 season and all matches from the quarter-finals onwards will be one-legged affairs, taking place behind closed doors in neutral venues in Lisbon.

Atleti will take on RB Leipzig at the Estádio José Alvalade (usually Sporting CP’s home ground) on tonight (Thursday), before Barcelona meet Bayern Munich at the Estádio da Luz (where Benfica usually play) on Friday.

These are two mouth-watering ties, with places in the semi-finals at stake.

Here comes a look at what each of the LaLiga representatives can expect:

Atlético de Madrid: vs RB Leipzig (Thursday, 9pm)

In terms of how Atlético Madrid and RB Leipzig got to this stage, there are many parallels. They both reached the quarter finals by defeating a finalist from last season, with Los Rojiblancos knocking out defending champions Liverpool and with the German side overcoming last year’s runners-up Tottenham. Also, both sides completed the two legs of their last 16 ties before the pandemic forced football’s stop, so they’ve known since March that they’d have a Champions League quarter-final to enjoy.

These teams also finished in the same position in their respective leagues. In LaLiga Santander, Atlético de Madrid finished third to secure an eighth top three finish in a row, while RB Leipzig finished third in the Bundesliga to further cement their newfound status as one of Germany’s top sides.

There are differences, though, when it comes to how these teams play. RB Leipzig are more attack-minded, scoring an average of 2.33 goals per game this season while letting in 1.13. Atleti, on the other hand, prefer to focus on defence first and have been scoring 1.37 goals per game this campaign and conceding a miserly 0.76. It should be pointed out, however, that RB Leipzig’s top scorer this season Timo Werner will not be featuring in Portugal since he has already completed a summer move to Chelsea.

Coaches Diego Simeone and Julian Nagelsmann have agreed that this tie is 50-50, meaning that this promises to be a fascinating encounter between two teams of similar quality, but contrasting styles.

FC Barcelona: vs Bayern Munich (Friday, 9pm)

While Atleti’s clash with RB Leipzig will be the first ever meeting between those sides, the same cannot be said of Barcelona vs Bayern Munich. This is a classic fixture between two giants of European football, two teams who have won the European Cup five times each. In fact, these are the only two clubs remaining in this year’s edition of the Champions League who have experience of winning Europe’s top club competition.

There have been fantastic duels between these two over the years. In total, they’ve met 10 times but Barça have only won twice, while drawing twice and losing six times. They did get the better of Bayern Munich the most recent time these sides met, though, winning 3-0 at home in the 2014/15 semi-finals – the match in which Lionel Messi made spaghetti of Bayern defender Jerome Boateng’s legs – and then progressing despite a 3-2 loss in Bavaria in the second leg. This week’s match is a blockbuster fixture, one which will see Bayern Munich’s in-form striker Robert Lewandowski try to outscore the Catalans’ hero Lionel Messi. The world will be watching when this match kicks off on Friday night.

And after the quarter finals?

Should Atleti progress to the semi-finals they’d meet the winner of Atalanta vs PSG, while Barcelona would be going up against the winner of Manchester City vs O. Lyon. There is still a long way to go and both teams will only be thinking about their quarter-final ties, but there could even be an all-LaLiga final at the Estádio da Luz on August 23rd.

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