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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Atletico Madrid are Barcelona's toughest opponent in Spain - Bordas

Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic says his team does not talk about their 38-game unbeaten streak and stresses that working hard is all they care about.

Barcelona representative Javier Bordas has claimed that Atletico Madrid are a tougher draw than Real Madrid would have been in Friday's Champions League quarterfinal draw.

The top two in La Liga were drawn to face each other in the last eight of Europe's elite competition, and Bordas knows that it won't be easy for Barca.

"They are a very tough team, the best defence around," he told reporters at the draw in Nyon, Switzerland. "But you know in quarters you will get a tough opponent. There were easier teams in the draw, but to win the CL you have to beat them all.

Barcelona MSN
Barcelona's strike trio all scored in the 3-1 second leg win over Arsenal at the Camp Nou.

"Against Atletico everything is difficult. We know their defensive strength, they can hurt you too. They are the toughest opponent in the Spanish league."

Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone said he was excited to be matched against "the best team in the world."

"Barcelona are an important rival," he told reporters at a news conference ahead of Saturday's league match against Sporting Gijon. "They are surely the best in the world and who better than us to play against the best in the world. I am already dreaming about it."

Atletico ousted Barcelona in the 2014 quarterfinals when they made a surprise run to the final. Simeone said this Barcelona are much improved over that 2014 squad.

"I have said this before. They move the ball better, they have superior counter-attack, and with the presence of [Luis] Suarez they are different team with more options," the Argentine coach said. 

Asked what changes he will make on his own squad after beating PSV Eindhoven, Simeone said: "We will continue to evaluate our recovery and we hope to select a team in the best way based on what I see and what I imagine the changes to be so that we can play the kind of match we want to play. We shall need all 18 players giving their maximum attention and preparation for the minutes they will play."

The first leg of the tie will be at the Camp Nou on March 5 or 6, with the return leg a week later.

"It is always better to have the return game at home, but this is what we have now," said Barcelona's Bordas. "We first have to pass this round, then we will see who we will face.

"We would probably prefer to play Real Madrid over two games [rather than a one-off meeting in the final]. But now we have Atletico."

Atletico Madrid beat PSV on penalties in the round-of-16 to earn their place in Friday's draw.

Atletico Madrid came out on top in sudden-death penalties against PSV in the last round.

"The important thing is the chance to be here -- in the quarterfinals for three consecutive years," said Clemente Villaverde from Atletico. "That is fundamental for us. Fortune has brought us Barca -- we will fight against them and show we are here for a reason.

"They are a great club, we have an exceptional relationship with them at all levels. There were three Spanish clubs in the draw, so always a chance that two might meet."

ESPN FC's Spain correspondent Dermot Corrigan contributed to this report

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