Turan's infamous boot throw can fade with starring role for Barca vs. Atletico
One of the first things that came to mind when Barcelona were paired with Atletico Madrid in the semifinal of the Copa del Rey was Arda Turan. Not just because he left Atletico for Barca, but because of his melodramatic behaviour the last time these two sides met in the competition.
Just over two years ago, Turan was part of the Atletico side that lost to Barca in an exhilarating quarterfinal. In the midst of a second leg that featured five goals and two red cards, it was somehow the Turkey international who provided the game's enduring memory.
In the middle of plenty of madness, Turan grew furious when he wasn't awarded a free kick after tussling for the ball with Ivan Rakitic and Dani Alves. Unable to control his anger, he decided that the natural thing to do would be to launch one of his boots at the assistant referee. Turan was somehow only shown a yellow card.
On Tuesday, though, and now on the other side of the encounter, Turan has a chance to leave a new lasting memory, a chance to ensure his mark on this fixture is not just hurling his footwear in frustration.
That's because with Neymar suspended, Turan is almost certain to start to the left of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez. He's excelled in that role when given the chance and is Barcelona's third top scorer with 13 goals this season -- more than Neymar.
Barca coach Luis Enrique is trying to maintain an air of mystery. "Rafinha, if fit, could play there, as could Denis [Suarez], so we won't give anything away," he said in his pregame news conference on Monday. But Atletico will be fairly sure that it will be the familiar face of Turan who lines up against their right-back, be it Juanfran or Sime Vrsaljko.
Turan turned 30 at the end of January and has ignored the money on offer from China in a bid to make his time at Camp Nou a success. He has spoken regularly of his desire to win the Champions League, but at this stage of his career and primarily as a squad player, leaving a mark in Catalunya -- not just on this fixture -- must be another aim.
He has scored two hat tricks this season, but both came in nondescript cup fixtures against Borussia Monchengladbach and Hercules. The majority of his other tallies came in victories of three goals or more, although he did score an important goal in the first fixture against Gladbach and two against Sevilla to help the Blaugrana win the Spanish Super Cup.
Yet despite those moments, there's a genuine concern that this campaign -- which has been a huge improvement on his first with Barcelona -- will be remembered for him giving away a needless free kick against Real Madrid, from which Sergio Ramos equalised.
Against Atletico, then, a starring role could go some way to making that moment and his infamous boot throwing fade slightly.
As was the case in that fixture at the Vicente Calderon two years ago, there are reasons to believe that this will not be the typical cagey, strategic, stingy affair between these two sides. On that occasion, Atletico had to score after going down one goal in the first leg, and they tried to take the game to Barca -- leaving acres of space for Neymar to tear them apart.
There's no Neymar this time around, but there will be Turan, Messi and Suarez, and Diego Simeone's side are once again in need of goals. Having lost 2-1 in the first leg at home, Atletico need to score at least twice on Tuesday before even factoring in any goals Barca may or may not score on the night.
Luis Enrique says he expects Atletico to be more "daring" than usual and if they are not clinical it could play into Barcelona's hands. Especially if Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta are all fit to play after training on Monday following injuries.
But will it play into Turan's hands? Or will his gift to this fixture forever remain a boot tossed at a linesman?
Samuel Marsden covers Barcelona for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @SamuelMarsden.