Atletico Madrid were the worst team for Barcelona to have drawn

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Luis Enrique was in a boisterous mood in his post match press conference on Wednesday. Having disposed of Arsenal in the Champions League round of 16, he declared the only side he didn't want to face in the next round was Barcelona.

Despite leaving some perplexed, his comments demonstrated the confidence he has in his side's ability to go all the way in Europe's elite competition. Not many would bet against the reigning champions, as they remain most of the bookies favourites, alongside Bayern Munich and Real Madrid.

Of course, Bayern's strength can't be ignored, but Italian giants Juventus did manage to expose some weaknesses. They scored four goals over two legs against the German league leaders and came agonisingly close to progressing.


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Real Madrid's ineptitude in the league places more importance on Champions League glory, and they will be motivated to rescue something from what has been an uninspiring season. Their recent form suggests, however, that head coach Zinedine Zidane still has plenty of work to do to mould a title-winning team.

The one team Luis Enrique may not have wanted to face is the team they were ultimately drawn against - Atletico Madrid.

Their loss to Sporting Gijon on Saturday night basically ended their hopes of winning the La Liga title. That means that, like Madrid, the Champions League is their only route to silverware this year. Unlike Real Madrid, though, Los Rojiblancos have been in superb form of late.

Before their game at Sporting Gijón, they had conceded only one goal in their previous eight fixtures. That includes an away win against arch-nemesis Real Madrid and two games against Dutch league leaders PSV Eindhoven.

Their strength defensively is an invaluable asset in a two-legged encounter, as preventing a Barcelona away goal could be vital if they are to progress. The atmosphere at El Calderón was ferocious on Tuesday, when they beat PSV Eindhoven on penalties, and the fans will have to play their part.

Losing centre-back, Jose Maria Gimenez, to injury on Saturday was certainly a blow. The international break, however, provides both himself and Uruguayan team-mate, Diego Godín, time to recover.

If they do make it back for the first quarter final clash against Barcelona, fans of Atletico Madrid will be more than optimistic that they can get something out of the match.

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