The two sides meet on Wednesday night in the Champions League
Atlético Madrid and Barcelona in the Champions League quarter-final is a reverse fixture in more ways than one.
Barcelona travel to Madrid with a 2-1 lead over their opponents but the domineering presence that Barcelona have displayed for most of the season has been replaced by a sense of trepidation and anxiety. Regardless of the curated dispatches coming from the Camp Nou ensuring Barça socios that there is no crisis, there most certainly is an impending sense of doom looming large over Luis Enrique's side.
They have gained just one point in their last three La Liga fixtures and between a draw against Villarreal and a loss against Real Sociedad came a hurtful loss to Real Madrid that has taken the wind out of the blaugranas.
Diego Simeone's men, on the other hand, will have to depart from their typically rigid defensive system and push forward in search of a goal at some stage on Wednesday night. The problem with this situation is that while Barcelona are on the fringes of collapse both physically and emotionally, they still only need a couple of seconds to tear a defence to shreds and have the capacity to punish teams without ever hitting top stride.
Atlético will be without Fernando Torres following his red card in the last game, and El Niño will be replaced by either Luciano Vietto or the impressive Yannick Ferreira Carrasco. If Simone opts for Carrasco in an effort to catch out Barcelona's defence with speed, we can expect to see Antoine Griezmann playing up front in place of Torres as the sole striker. Griezmann, Atlético's talisman, has scored 27 goals in 44 games this year and they will look to him again in their time of need at the Vicente Calderón on Wednesday night.
Fernando Torres misses the game after being sent off last week in the first leg. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
Meanwhile, Luis Suárez looks set to return to the side after being replaced by Munir during Saturday night's loss to Real Sociedad at the Anoeta. Arda Turan and Rafinha replaced Andres Iniesta and Ivan Rakitic in the same game and could not provide an impetus in midfield meaning they will both drop to the bench for Wednesday's clash. Elsewhere, it is the same as it ever was for Barcelona in defence with Thomas Vermaelen out injured along with Jeremy Mathieu. Gerard Piqué will play through a hip injury, but any knock or yellow card trouble Mascherano or Piqué find themselves in will leave them in a pickle, with no cover on the bench.
While that loss at the Anoeta is another damning piece of evidence in the growing case for Barcelona's possible demise, they did get the chance to rest four of their most important players in Jordi Alba, Iniesta, Rakitic and Suárez during that tie.
Simeone might be reluctant to allow his players attack in a gung-ho fashion, instead opting for a more balanced and cagey approach in an effort to stymie any hopes of an early Barcelona goal that would surely kill off the tie.
This has the potential to be one of the most fascinating ties of the round with both Simeone and Luis Enrique capable of throwing tactical spanners in the works, away from what we expect. A 1-0 win will do it for Atlético but the chances of keeping a clean sheet against Barcelona is something you just can't foresee.