Atlético Madrid face a big obstacle in its quest to make the Copa del Rey final for the first time in four years. Los colchoneros were drawn with two-time defending champions Barcelona in the Copa semifinals on Friday lunchtime, and the winner will meet either Celta Vigo or Deportivo Alavés in the final in May.
Speaking via video link moments before the draw, Koke welcomed the challenge of playing the blaugrana.
“We’re going for it,” Koke said. “We don't mind who we get.”
Diego Simeone remarked that he had been around the block enough to know that Atlético would have to eliminate a great team in order to win a trophy.
“After five years at the club, I don't understand any other way to become a champion than to face Madrid or Barça,” Simeone said. “They are the two best in the world.”
Indeed, this marks the fourth consecutive season in which Atlético and Barcelona will meet in a two-legged tie. Atleti knocked out Barça in the Champions League quarterfinals in both 2014 and 2016, while the holders won the Spanish Super Cup at Atleti’s expense in 2013 and eliminated the mattress makers in the 2015 Copa del Rey quarterfinals.
This draw also means these two sides will see each other three times in February, with the final fixture being a somewhat massive league tilt at the Vicente Calderón on Feb. 26.
In the meantime, the semifinal first leg will take place at the Calderón next Wednesday, Feb. 1, with the return leg set for Camp Nou on Tuesday, Feb. 7.