Barca, Atletico draw again

Barcelona manager Gerardo Martino believes his side did everything in their power to break down a dogged Atletico Madrid as they were held 1-1 at the Camp Nou in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday.

Diego Ribas had put Atletico in front with a wonder strike 11 minutes into the second-half, but Barcelona responded 19 minutes from time when Neymar swept home Andres Iniesta's sublime through ball.

That goal ensured the sides drew for the fourth time in as many encounters this season, but Martino was happier with his side's display than in their three previous meetings with Atletico.

"Apart from the individual performances that we can talk about, the overall display of the team leaves me very calm. Against possibly the best counter-attacking team in Spain, if not Europe, we gave up two chances in the first-half and a goal from 30 metres.

"We created three or four good chances ourselves, which is a lot against this Atletico team. I love managing a team that always tries to play in this manner.

"When the team has played badly in the past I have said so, but tonight it is fair to say that the team played very well."

Both sides suffered injury blows as Barca's Gerard Pique will be sidelined for four weeks due to a hairline fracture in his right hip, whilst Atletico's top scorer Diego Costa looks set to miss the return leg too due to a hamstring injury.

Twenty-three year-old central defender Marc Bartra was forced into action after just 10 minutes by Pique's injury, but Martino has every confidence that the youngster can deputise ably for the experienced Pique in the coming weeks.

"In these situations you need to be able to count on everyone. Unfortunately, these things happen but Bartra played very well.

"I was not surprised by his performance, although to be able to come on as he did after just 10 minutes and adjust to the game straight away was very impressive."

Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone, meanwhile, lauded the effort of his side's players as they desperately held on in the final 20 minutes after Neymar had brought Barca level.

"I am very happy. The team worked as a group and showed enormous heart. I go through the same feelings and emotions as an Atletico fan and I know the fans can be immensely proud of the effort the team put in tonight."

Simeone refused to elaborate on how long Costa may be sidelined for, but he praised the contribution made by Diego as replaced the Spanish international after half an hour and made his mark in spectacular style with a wonderful opening goal.

"I am very happy for him because he has worked away in the background very quietly waiting for his opportunity.

"The team needs him and he needs the team, but tonight he played a complete game."

However, the Argentine coach refused to say his side now had the upper hand as they take an away goal back to the Vicente Calderon for the return next Wednesday, April 9.

"I loved the game. There were two teams with very different styles playing in their own way to break the other.

"We know it will be an extremely tough game again against a team with enormous talent.

"We have to recover well, play on Saturday and then prepare for the second-leg on Wednesday."

Share your thoughts

Back to top

More From Bangkokpost.com