Andoni Zubizarreta said any opponent was going to be tough after his Barcelona side were drawn with La Liga rivals Atletico Madrid in Friday’s quarterfinal draw.
The all-Spanish tie was the first drawn by ex-Barca winger Luis Figo, and brings together two teams who have already met three times this season, with each game finishing all-square, and only two goals scored in total.
The first leg will be played at the Camp Nou on Tuesday April 1, with the return at Atletico’s Estadio Vicente Calderon on Wednesday April 9.
The Barcelona sporting director told Canal Plus directly after the draw that given the strength of the other teams in the pot the Blaugrana were never going to get an easy tie.
“With the draw that there was, and the other teams in there, all teams were going to be difficult,” Zubizarreta said. “We are not discovering Atletico just now. We are used to playing against them and that could have weight. These are the most powerful quarterfinals in history. There was nobody in the draw who you think you want to get. They are all great ties. Anyone who likes football will enjoy themselves. This is the draw and we must accept it.”
Zubi said that the quarterfinal games would be just the latest challenge for Barca in a season which this weekend brings a La Liga clasico against Real Madrid at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.
“When we got [Manchester] City [in the last 16] it was the most difficult tie, and here we are now,” he said. “We are in the Copa final and up there in La Liga, everything will be decided in these two months. We want to come out of the Bernabeu feeling reinforced, so we can take on this tie in good form.”
Atletico board spokesperson Clemente Villaverde told Canal Plus that his increasingly fancied side would approach the ties in the exact same way as every other game this season.
“The eight teams are all very strong,” Villaverde said. “We have got Barcelona, and will fight in the tie with the same motivation as all season. Each game is a new story, is different. We will have to keep approaching games as we have been doing, and use the weapons we have.”
Villaverde said it was not clear yet whether having the second leg at home would be an advantage for Atletico.
“You cannot tell whether having the second game at the Calderon is an advantage or not,” he said. “In the recent meetings neither team has been able to overcome the other. We must take on the game just as we have done until now. The opponent has incredible potential. but we are a team based on our work and our consistency. We can make games uncomfortable for any opponent.”
If this season’s previous meetings are anything to go by then the two ties are likely to be tight, tactical affairs. Barca took the Spanish Supercopa on away goals last August after a 1-1 draw at the Calderon was followed by a 0-0 at the Camp Nou. January’s first La Liga meeting in Madrid also finished scoreless. Their return league game is set for the final weekend of the season in late May.