Barcelona's legendary midfielder Andres Iniesta plays his 500th career game for his club against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League, and he has called for his team to repeat history and defeat their La Liga counterparts, as they did against Chelsea in 2009.
Pete Jenson of The Independent reports that the Spanish international has compared Atletico to the west London side, who progressed to the semi-finals on Tuesday night.
Iniesta scored a famous last-gasp winner at Stamford Bridge five years ago that controversially knocked Chelsea out of the competition.
Jenson quotes Iniesta as saying:
This game has something of the Chelsea semi-final about it. They are similar rivals who close down the space on the pitch and make it very uncomfortable for the opposition. I hope that record continues [every time Iniesta has scored Barcelona have not lost] but I also hope that things go well enough not to need a last-minute goal as we did in London.
The 29-year-old Iniesta has not been in the greatest of goalscoring form this season. In his 29 domestic league appearances this year he has only managed to score three times, per Squawka.
However, as quoted in Jenson's article, Iniesta is not prolific in front of goal, having only scored 50 times in his 499 appearances for Barcelona so far—a surprising statistic.
But Iniesta's class and influence are readily identified by all in the game. Footballer Joey Barton recently said of the Spaniard:
Now shall I tell you what World Class is for me. Ronaldo and Messi. Iniesta and Suarez. WC is a term thrown about far too often.— Joseph Barton (@Joey7Barton) April 3, 2014
Iniesta is one of the modern-day wizards of world football, but he will have to produce somewhere near his best level to help Barca make the semi-final against an Atletico team high on confidence and gusto.
Along with Liverpool, the Madrid side have been the surprise team of 2013-14, winning fans with their attacking style and confident play. Like Liverpool, they sit clear at the top of their domestic league and look to break the axis of power of Spain's two traditional trophy collectors.
Barcelona have the know-how in the knockout stages of the Champions League, and this fact alone will serve the Calatan club well.
Will Atletico Madrid knock Barcelona out of the Champions League?
As we saw with Chelsea on Tuesday night, their experience paid dividends just at the right time, against a PSG team who simply do not have the thoroughbred background in the competition.
Atletico could suffer a similar fate, but the fact that the second-leg is in their territory could swing the tie their way.
The fitness of Diego Costa will be key for the Madrid club and his presence alone could be enough to see a shock result occur.