Champions League - Martino: Barca must get first goal

Tata Martino demanded that Barcelona score first against Atletico Madrid in their Champions League quarter-final second leg.

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Tata Martino - Barcelona coach

The score stands at 1-1 from the first-leg at Camp Nou, which means Barca will have to score at Vicente Calderon to cancel out Atletico’s away goal.

Mundo Deportivo reports that Martino told his pre-match press conference he wouldn’t be making any predictions about the tie.

“These games don’t usually follow predictions. But I want us to outplay our opponent and win,” Martino said. “I think there is a deep understanding between the teams.

"They are two teams at a high level, with strong and different styles and it’s not a given that Barca can go ahead on the scoreboard.

“We’ll see if we can score first and make it a different game.”

Martino added that he believes the final half-hour of the match will be the decisive period.

“I can’t think Atletico will allow us to dominate for 90 minutes. But we will try to be in it with 30 minutes of the second-half to go because playing that way is much more convenient.

“[The previous games between the clubs] have been even games in which we’ve had some superiority in the second halves.

“The way to go was seen in the last half hour last week and we can prolong the tie. I don’t see how we played in the last 30 minutes last week as any different to how we played at Santiago Bernabeu. The difference was we didn’t score.

“If we score first then I’m sure the game will be different to the previous ones.”

All the games between Barca and Atleti so far this season have ended in draws with Lionel Messi failing to score against the Liga leaders.

Martino insisted he was not concerned about the Argentine’s lack of goals against Los Rojiblancos, adding he would prepare Barca as if Diego Costa was definitely playing despite the Spain international being considered a doubt for the match.

“Messi used to decide every game so when he doesn’t, it attracts attention,” Martino said. “We want to be decisive and Leo has many ways to do it, not necessarily by scoring.

“Costa is a player that a Coach might wait to see if he can play even if he’s not 100%.

“It’s too early to make a guess [if Costa will play or not]. We have to prepare as if they’re all available. Then we can determine how we line-up.”

Martino was asked about the assertion of his counterpart Diego Simeone that it is an advantage to play the second-leg at the Calderon due to the possibility of extra-time.

He also denied there was any rift between the two, insisting that the game was about Barca and Atletico, not Tata and Cholo.

“We want to go through in the 90 minutes. If we can do that it means we have taken the lead. In case of a tie then the away goal counts double,” Martino said.

“This is Barca and Atletico and the prize is the semi-final. There is no personal matter beyond the work we are doing as a group. One will be happy and the other sad after the game. There’s nothing personal.”

Read the original article on Football Espana - The ultimate website for English-speaking fans of Spanish football

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