Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes hailed Atletico Madrid's intensity after the two sides were paired together in Friday's UEFA Champions League quarter-final draw. Both sides are separated by just a point in Spanish La Liga with ten games to go and have already met three times this season with all three games ending in draws.
Barça claimed the Spanish Supercup on away goals in August thanks to Neymar's header in a 1-1 draw in the first leg at the Vicente Calderon before the return leg ended 0-0 at the Camp Nou a week later. It was a similar scoreline in their La Liga meeting in January as neither side could break the deadlock and Valdes believes that could be down to Atletico's style of play.
"It is something to bear in mind that it is an opponent that we know well. Sometimes it can help, others times it doesn't. The important thing is to analyse that it will be a very difficult tie. We need to not concede at home to be able to have a better chance in the second leg," he told a press conference on Friday. The draws could be down to the way that Atletico play. They are a team that presses with an intensity in the same style as their coach and I compliment everything that they are doing."
However, Valdes is particularly wary that Diego Simeone's side could take advantage of Barça's problem of defending set-pieces.
"It will also be tough in respect to set-plays. They are a team that make the most of their opportunities in that type of play and the statistics tell us that we are conceding a lot of goals from them this season."
Atletico director Clemente Valverde believes Los Rojiblancos can take heart from their meetings against Barça this season.
"I don't know if the second game being in the Calderon is an advantage or not. In the recent games between the two sides neither has been able to win," he told Canal Plus. "We need to treat the games as we have done until now. They have incredible potential, but we are a team that is based on hard work."
Butragueno wary of Dortmund
Real Madrid, meanwhile, have the chance to avenge their semi-final defeat at the hands of Borussia Dortmund last season. The Germans emerged 4-3 victors on aggregate to progress to the final at Wembley thanks to Robert Lewandowski's four-goal haul in a 4-1 win in the first leg.
However, the Polish international will be missing for the first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu this time round as he is suspended after picking up his third yellow card in the competition in Wendesday's 2-1 home defeat to Zenit St Petersburg. However, Real's director of institutional relations, Emilio Butragueno warned against complacency if they are to reach a fourth consecutive semi-final.
"I would appear that there were stronger opponents in the draw and Borussia's performance this season isn't the same as last year, but we need to be very careful. Moreover, the return leg is in Dortmund and their stadium has a special magic because their supporters support them a lot. We need to arrive in Dortmund with a good result."