Explosive night beckons Europe

Atletico Madrid hope to have talismanic striker Diego Costa back fit against Barcelona on Wednesday when the La Liga leaders bid to pull off another Spanish surprise by reaching the Champions League semifinals.

Spain's Costa has hit 33 goals for Diego Simeone's side in a remarkable season for Atletico, where they have come out of the shadows of their more affluent neighbours Real Madrid and La Liga champions Barca.

They picked up a 1-1 draw in a typically hard-fought battle at the Camp Nou in the Champions League first leg last week, where Costa limped off with a hamstring strain in the first half.

Costa has been receiving intensive treatment with the aim of being ready for the home leg and is progressing well. However, with further crucial games ahead, Atletico's medical staff are wary of him coming back too soon and aggravating the injury.

Arda Turan is also a doubt with a groin strain and if he does not recover then his place on the right wing would likely go to Diego with Adrian Lopez possibly replacing Costa.

Barcelona were below their best but beat Real Betis 3-1 at the weekend with two more goals from Lionel Messi and remain on Atletico's shoulders with the two sides also still to meet at the Camp Nou in La Liga.

Their main injury concerns are at the back where Gerard Pique is missing with a hip injury so Marc Bartra could again deputise with Carles Puyol out long term.
Barca also have to finish the season with veteran goalkeeper Jose Manuel Pinto after Victor Valdes was ruled out with a knee ligament injury.

"It was a tough game where we put in a great effort and now for the return leg we will be in perfect condition," Pinto told Barca TV.

"It is likely to be a tight game, the same as the first, and small details will make the difference. We hope that these small details will go for us." 

Worries for Bayern

Bayern Munich's longest winless run for three years and poor recent home record against English opposition have suddenly made Manchester United's task on Wednesday look a lot less daunting than it was when the draw was made.

Bayern will also be without three key midfielders, including Bastian Schweinsteiger, for the quarterfinal second leg, evenly poised after last week's 1-1 draw.
The Bavarians have lost their air of invincibility since clinching the Bundesliga title against Hertha Berlin on March 25 and have not won since with two draws and a defeat in all competitions in their last three games.

It is the first time since March 2011 that Bayern have endured a three-match winless run and, even though they have already sewn up the Bundesliga, it is a disconcerting statistic for a side which has become used to chalking up wins with monotonous regularity.

Another worry for Bayern is their failure to win any of their last four matches against English opposition at the Allianz Arena.

The run started with the 2012 Champions League final against Chelsea, who won on penalties after a 1-1 draw. That was followed by defeats to Arsenal and Manchester City and, most recently, a draw against Arsenal in the previous Champions League round last month.

Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer's tendency for South American-style forays out of his penalty creates an additional risk for last season's treble winners, who are aiming for their third successive Champions League final.

United's own form, with four goals in each of their last two Premiership wins, is another encouraging sign for manager David Moyes, even though Wayne Rooney, with a toe injury, and winger Ashley Young (hand) are both doubtful. "We've got to play to win, we'll end up losing if we play for a goalless draw," said Bayern's Brazilian defender Dante.

"We've got be aggressive going forward from the start and try to score. Manchester United will sit back again. They'll take more risks the longer the game goes on."

Bayern coach Pep Guardiola said he also expected United to play on the break.
"They'll be looking to hit us on the break and at set plays," he said.

"We're in a final on Wednesday. It's a matter of life and death." 

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