Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic has urged his teammates to remain calm as they approach Wednesday’s Champions League quarterfinal second leg at Atletico Madrid in stuttering form. A second-half brace from Luis Suarez allowed Barca to edge a bad-tempered first-leg 2-1 after Atleti goal scorer Fernando Torres was sent off for two bookings in quick succession.
That victory now stands within a slump of one point from a possible nine in La Liga, with Saturday’s 1-0 reverse at Real Sociedad following a Clasico loss to Real Madrid and 2-2 draw with Villarreal. Atleti is now only three points behind Barca at the top of the table, but first has designs on ending the Catalans’ reign as European champions before attempting to topple them as kings of Spain.
Barcelona can at least reflect on a fine record against Diego Simeone’s side under its current boss, with Luis Enrique winning seven of seven ahead of his latest test at the Vicente Calderon. Rakitic made his 100th Barcelona appearance as a substitute on the weekend and the former Sevilla man insists there are other reasons not to panic.