Enrique demands improvement from Barcelona

Coach challenges his side to “show we are the best team in the world”

Barcelona head to Atletico Madrid for the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final aiming to show their campaign is still on track for domestic and European success.

Luis Enrique's men will defend a 2-1 lead at the Vicente Calderon but head into the tie on the back of successive defeats in La Liga to Real Madrid and Real Sociedad.

As a result, Barcelona are now just three points ahead of Atletico and four in front of rivals Real, a slender advantage which could be all but wiped out by the time they kick off against Valencia on Sunday evening.

Enrique, though, has challenged his team to “show we are the best team in the world” by producing the required response over the closing weeks of the season.


Barcelona fell behind in the first leg as Fernando Torres fired in what could yet prove a priceless away goal for Atletico, only to then get himself sent off for a second caution ahead of half-time.

That ultimately swung the balance of the match as Luis Suarez netted a second-half brace.

Midfielder Ivan Rakitic believes his team-mates can rise to the challenge once again.

“We will try to look forward and forget [the Sociedad] match. It was a defeat determined by small details,” he said on Canal Plus.

“We are all united like a big family. We have to stick with this mentality for the next match. We have no doubt.

“Sometimes you get something like a victory over Atletico — a special game like last week could be a boost.”

Barcelona are set to travel to Madrid without midfielder Rafinha and defender Thomas Vermaelen.

Brazilian Rafinha made his return from some seven months out after a serious knee injury in the first leg and then started against Sociedad only to head off at half-time with a thigh problem. Centre-back Vermaelen, meanwhile, has a calf injury.

Gerard Pique, though, is expected to shake off a hip problem to face Atletico.

“The important game is on Wednesday. That is when we have the most important competition at stake,” he said.

“No team can do everything perfectly all season. We know what we have to improve on.”

Suarez missed the defeat at Sociedad because of a domestic suspension, while the likes of Jordi Alba, Andres Iniesta and Rakitic all started on the bench.

Atletico will be without Torres, who serves a one-match European ban.

Diego Simeone’s men secured a 3-1 away win at Espanyol to quickly put the Barcelona result out of their system.

Midfielder Koke believes home advantage could prove key to their second encounter.

“The Calderon will be buzzing and we are up for it,” he said.

“In Barcelona we couldn’t win due to different circumstances, but we believe we can turn it around.”