Barcelona boss Gerardo Martino believes his side must match Atletico Madrid's high-energy style when the two sides meet in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday. The clash will be the fourth time Barca and Atletico have faced each other already this season with all three previous meetings in the Spanish Supercup and La Liga ending in draws.
And Martino thinks Barca must neutralise Atletico's intensity to allow their superior technical ability to take control. "I think we need to match Atletico's intensity. Our strength is playing as Barcelona always do, but we need to cope with their intensity to be able to do that."
With Barca's possession game in mind, Martino is expected to name the same side that started their 4-3 win against Real Madrid nine days ago with the Spanish international quartet of Sergio Busquets, Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas supporting Lionel Messi and Neymar in attack.
Xavi and Iniesta in particular have come into fine form in recent weeks in stark contrast to the tired state in which they ended last season as Barca were swept aside 7-0 on aggregate by Bayern Munich in the semi-finals of the Champions League.
Martino has staunchly defended his rotation policy throughout the season to ensure there was no repeat of the fatigue suffered by the Catalan stars and feels vindicated by their performances in recent weeks. "It is difficult for me to talk about Xavi because if I do it shows the rotations have worked and I did my job well, but it is true," he joked.
Atletico, meanwhile, suffered a scare on the eve of the game as Diego Costa hobbled off during their training session on Monday night and is rated as doubtful by manager Diego Simeone. "I don't know (if he will play tomorrow), first we have to talk with the doctor to see what condition he is in and then we will take a decision," he told Television Espanola.
"In theory, leaving the training session today, I think it will be difficult for tomorrow."
Losing Costa would be a huge blow as their 25-year-old top scorer has been in great form of late, scoring six times in five games as Atletico have moved back to the top of La Liga and progressed to the last eight of the Champions League for the first time in 17 years.