It was all going to plan when Fernando Torres, who earned his right to play after a brilliant outing last weekend, scored a goal to put his side ahead midway through the first half.
The goal silenced a Camp Nou crowd that was so loud when both starting XIs walked out onto the pitch, you couldn’t even hear the UEFA Champions League anthem.
Atletico Madrid came out pressing high, hoping to pressure Barca’s backline into a mistake, and reverted to bringing everyone behind the ball when Luis Enrique’s men reached their half. It worked, Barca had possession but were limited from their creative genius by being kept out wide.
However, six minutes after Torres received a yellow in the 29th minute, the Spaniard pressed Sergio Busquets and rammed his knee into his compatriots’ leg to earn himself a first-class ticket to the exit.
— Carlo Valladares (@C_V_News) April 5, 2016
The red card was shown, Diego Simeone protested, and it felt like deja vu all over again, except this time it wasn’t Filipe Luis trying to break an Argentine’s knee.
After that, los Rojiblancos managed to defend like their lives and season depended on it (it kind of did), and only managed to let one of ‘MSN’s trident onto the scoresheet. Luis Suarez scored two in the second half, and Atleti were left to tell themselves that it could have been worse as the ref blew the final whistle.
Read on for ratings:
Oblak – 8
Interestingly enough, Atleti’s Slovenian stopper was put to work when Atletico Madrid was actually still at full strength. He had a brilliant point-black stop on Neymar’s only shot on goal. On free-kicks and set-pieces he was pretty much perfect when going out to grab away the chances.
Juanfran – 8
Juanfran has to be a top 5 Atleti player all season based on his consistency, his dribbling down his flank, and his defensive work rate. Although today his on-the-ball services weren’t needed much, Torres’s red card killed that aspect; he did his work when his side stayed compact cleared away many loose balls.
Godín – 8
The Uruguayan was viewed as questionable for actually being fully fit to play despite being given the green light on Sunday. Nonetheless, he got at nearly every ball that came his way via head, body, and leg. Godin anchored his line to near perfection when the going got rough for his shorthanded side midway through the second half.
Lucas – 7
The 20-year old didn’t disappoint. Like many of his teammates, he did what he could on the backfoot with only nine other teammates by his side. It was a great outing from a young center-back who is showing great promise.
Filipe – 8
Like Juanfran, the Brazilian was left to sit-back and defend after Torres was sent off and didn’t get to show off his Samba skills in Barca’s lower-third. Either way, he did his job when Barca was pummeling them with crosses from the wide areas.
Gabi – 8
Generally speaking, Gabi’s whole side defended excellently when you take into consideration just how good Barcelona is, let alone against 10 men. However, Gabi was involved in Torres’ goal as it was he who passed the ball to Koke. Defensively? Of course he was good.
Koke – 9 (Man of the Match)
Great overall performance from the Spaniard, was up and down the pitch before Atleti went down a man, and split the defense when he fed the ball to Torres.
Saúl – 7
Worked hard all game and had great movement on the counter attack. He was arguably the most offensive-minded player on the break. The 24-year old midfielder didn’t falter either when Barca came knocking in his end. Displays like these prove why he is such a brilliant two-way player.
Carrasco – 7
Excellent runs when the ball was at his feet and caused problems for Barca’s midfield with his pace when his side were still at full strength. He came off in the 53rd minute for Augusto Fernandez when it was clear that Atletico were only going to focus on defending.
Torres – 4
Against Real Betis he was his classic self, and for the opening 34 minutes he was too, then he stupidly challenged Busquets and prevented his team from having the best possible chance to win. The idiotic challenge was a huge blow to his rating.
Griezmann – 7
He was right there with his mates, deep in the trenches, when the Catalan giants were dropping bombs from left and right. Prior to the Torres ’embarrassment,’ his link and build-up play was class.
Augusto Fernandez – 7
The midfielder came on in the 53rd to defend his club from even more embarrassment than Torres already caused, and succeeded despite scissor tackling Dani Alves.
Thomas – 6
The youngster came on to offer fresh pace and to equalize after Griezmann was fighting for his life for 76 minutes. He had decent spots of brilliance on the break but no cigar.
Angel Correa – N/A