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Atletico Madrid v Barcelona Champions League: Rakitic believes Barca can prove losses are just a blip

By Staff Reporter

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.

Barcelona are now just three points ahead of Atletico and four in front of rivals Real.

Enrique, though, has challenged his team to "show we are the best team in the world" by producing the required response.

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 as Luis Suarez netted a second-half brace.

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

"We will try to look forward and forget (the Sociedad) match. It was determined by small details," he said. "We are all united like a family. We have to stick with this mentality.

"Sometimes you get something like a victory over Atletico - a special game like last week could be a boost."

Barca are without midfielder Rafinha and Thomas Vermaelen.

Brazilian Rafinha has recently returned from seven months out after a serious knee injury only to head off at half-time against Sociedad with a thigh problem. Centre-back Vermaelen, meanwhile, has a calf injury.

Gerard Pique is expected to shake off a hip issue.

Belfast Telegraph


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