Atlético Madrid were well prepared, focused and aggressive in their first half against Barcelona. It was a battle between la Liga’s top teams and with Real Madrid again dropping points, the Rojiblancos were seemingly the only team capable of keeping up with the Catalans.
On Sunday night for half an hour Atlético showed why they are currently Barça’s biggest rivals, but right when everything seemed to be going our way it all came falling down. Two goals at the end of the first half and then another brace by Messi in the second turned the match in Barcelona’s favour.
Atleti started the game strongly and pressured Barcelona on all parts of the pitch. This led to an early chance for Radamel Falcao, who hit the post from Koke’s cross from the right.
Koke and Falcao again combined when the midfielder took a free kick quickly and launched the Colombian, but our topscorer lost his footing and aimed wide.
But the third time was indeed the charm for Falcao, who received the ball from Diego Costa on his own half and then sprinted all the way to Valdés’ goal. El Tigre scored his 20th goal of the season by chipping the ball over the goalkeeper to give Atleti a completely deserved lead.
Barcelona’s stars had been succesfully shut out by Atlético, but after the goal the Colchoneros foolishly dropped deeper and allowed the Culés to tie the score. There was little stopping Adriano however, as the left footed right back cut inside to launch an unstoppable strike that bounced off the crossbar and into the topcorner.
Shortly before the break Barcelona increased the pressure and won a serie of corner kicks. One of the crosses, in the final minute of the half, landed before Sergio Busquets, who kept his calm and scored from close range to give Barça the lead from only their second attempt on target.
Atlético’s entire team had been compact and the players did well to step out and win the ball, but in the second half the players seemed tired and unable to break Barcelona’s spells of possession.
After an hour of play Diego Simeone decided to make an offensive substitution, which immediately backfired. The coach took off Mario Suárez for an extra forward and moments later Barcelona struck again. Without the extra holding midfielder, Messi was allowed to run at the defence and the Argentine scored an amazing goal from outside the area.
With two goals between them, the home team took their foot off the gas without ever giving up the ball. Barça created another opportunity ten minutes before the end, which was saved very well by Courtois after Iniesta’s shot took a deflection.
In the final minutes of the game Lionel Messi was gifted another goal after an incredible mistake by Diego Godín and the current Pichichi beat Courtois for his 90th goal of the calendar year.
Line-up: Courtois; Juanfran, Miranda, Godín, Filipe (“46 Cata Díaz); Koke, Gabi, Mario (“57 Adrián), Arda; Diego Costa (“60 Tiago) and Falcao.
Goals: 0-1 Falcao (“31); 1-1 Adriano (“36); 2-1 Busquets (“45); 3-1 Messi (“58); 4-1 Godín (“88)