This is a make-or-break moment for Atlético Madrid coach Diego SImeone as his men face Barcelona at Vicente Calderón looking for a spot in the Champions League semifinals. After a 2-1 loss at Camp Nou last Tuesday, the Colchoneros need a performance for the ages to knock off the reigning champions.
For Simeone in particular, this is a huge challenge. Since Luis Enrique took over the job as Blaugana boss, he has won every single one of the first seven meetings against the Argentinean coach, who is obligated to break that streak to see his team reaching the European Cup Final Four.
Simeone and Atlético will never change their style, and even though that led to seven straight defeats to the Catalan giants, they will not play any differently this Wednesday.
"Being Atlético means being tenacious, competitive, never giving up and overcoming difficulties. We know there are better teams than us. But we know we can compete against Barcelona.
"We try to improve what we are doing [against Barça] game after game. We will try to find an angle and see if we can get at them and win."
Simeone, source: UEFA.com
Despite the first leg loss, El Cholo can count on a few advantages on Wednesday night's decider: the vital away goal scored in the Catalan capital, and the atmosphere of the Vicente Calderón, perhaps the best football environment in Europe today. Even with those advantages, however, Simeone does not believe the Blaugrana will be affected by the outside factors.
"The excitement and enthusiasm around this match is fantastic, but I don't think the Barcelona players will be surprised by the atmosphere because they are used to it."
"Koke is a very important player for us. He has great vision. The team has had a freshness and an energy about it of late, and that's down to having a player like him in midfield."