Simeone "Caesar" status is on the line ahead of Barça visit

Atlético vs Barça preview, build up and live coverage

A tired formula being doubted

It’s a huge game tonight. I have the impression that this provides a crossroads for Atlético. Beyond what actually occurs in the tie, they must win this match and rediscover the convincing image of not so long ago. They are some distance in LaLiga, where the objective now is to secure third place, and it won't be an easy task. In the last game they were poor. After five years, the first signs of formula exhaustion are appearing. Simeone as ruling Caesar, would previously raise a finger and everyone would respond like 'gurkhas', but now is starting to have questions asked. Carrasco’s gesture the other day would not have been seen even just a year ago.

Atletico Madrid's Antoine Griezmann celebrates a goal with teammates Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco and Kevin Gameiro.

Caesar Simeone

Simeone bragged yesterday, with justification, of his six semi-finals in five years. Five incredible years, which included a Liga title and two Champions League finals which ended with Madrid-induced agony. The question is whether this spell is still alive or if the cycle has ended. Tonight, with the motivation of playing Barça and the prospect of a title in three games, it could be that we see the old Atlético again, one that we have started to miss. That Atlético, before the reaction of Carrasco, prior to the doubts of Gabi, and more than anything, before the faltering of Simeone after the defeat of Milan. That Atlético, all-for-one and one-for-all with Simeone as uncontested Caesar.

Atlético coach Diego Simeone can refind the magic starting tonight against Barcelona.

Rediscovering the Atleti spirit

This occasion is worth it. Barça also come into this game thinking that it’s going to be difficult to win the league, now that Madrid has gone again, and that the Copa is now only three games. And they have Messi, Luis Suárez and Neymar, a tremendous three. But they don’t have Iniesta or Busquets, which complicates how the team functions. Even the great Barça of recent years was taken apart by Atlético for a league, head-to-head in the Camp Nou, and has been eliminated twice from the Champions League at their hands. That Atlético was capable of anything. The challenge tonight for Atlético is to turn the match into another of these encounters with that same spirit, find it once again and then start afresh.