Champions League: Barcelona 2 – 1 Atlético

Emotions get the better of ten-man Atleti as Barca run out winners

Fernando Torres sent from the field

Fernando Torres sent from the field

Luis Suárez scored two second half goals after Fernando Torres picked up a goal and two yellow cards in just ten minutes writing the latest chapter in what is becoming a heated rivalry between Atleti and Barcelona.

Barcelona attacked early, out possessing Atleti and controlling the ball almost from the outset. However, the rojiblancos were fine to sit back and play the counter attack, a strategy that has worked several times this season.

Messi had the first true chance of the game, sending a volley wide off a Jordi Alba cross and Neymar’s header continued to make Atletico nervous in the first 20 minutes.

Fernando Torres struck first in the 25th, receiving one of Koke’s trademark passes in the middle of the box and putting it through Ter Stegen’s legs and into the back of the net.

Just four minutes later, Torres earned the first of eight yellow cards for Atlético, tripping Neymar near the middle of the pitch.

El Niño created a great chance for Griezmann, who fired a solid ground shot that Ter Stegen just sent wide for a corner.

But just like that, Atlético’s hero was done as he violently knocked Busquets off the ball and received a yellow. The Barca veteran embellished the challenge a bit, but Torres should have known better than to take such a risk when he was already in the book.

Barcelona saw blood in the water and began to bring on the attack, putting cross after cross into the box. Diego Godín and Jan Oblak stopped most of these chances, as Atleti totaled seven blocked shots and three saves on the night.

However, Barcelona kept fighting and finally found the back of the net in the 63rd. Jordi Alba’s short cross found Suarez right in front of goal and the veteran Uruguayan found the back of the net for a 1-1 draw.

Just nine minutes later, Dani Alves found Suarez for a header and Barca went up 2-1. Suarez’s two goals were a long time coming as Barca outshot Atleti 21-7 and controlled possession 75-25.

Late in the game, Diego Simeone tried to limit the damage, substituting defense for offense and saving Carrasco, Griezmann and Saúl for the second leg.

Torres’ red certainly was not the only skirmish between these two teams. After exchanging words througout the game, Lucas gave Neymar a hard tackle and received a yellow. Suarez gave Luis a hard push in Atleti’s box, but did not receive punishment from the referee.

Despite the two allowed goals, the defense deserves credit for holding on as long as they did. Lucas picked up right where he left off against Betis. Filipe and Juanfran had a number of game-saving tackles. Gabi, Godin and Augusto headed out cross after cross.

Of course, Atletico would have hoped for a better attacking display. The absence of Torres combined with unrelenting pressure from the Barca defense created a panic for Saul, Griezmann and Carassco. The trio were rarely heard from after the sending off and their recovery will set the tone when the fixture moves to the Calderón on Wednesday.

Emotions will certainly be important in the home fixture. Atlético will miss Torres and Gabi, Saúl, Godin, and Juanfran were the only colchoneros to avoid the book for a full 90 minutes.

Atleti has a trip to Espanyol on Saturday at 18:15 before returning to the Calderón to face Barcelona on Wednesday, April 13.

  • nandes

    We can’t really count on a 1-0 result at home. As we know from the last three games there’s no way to keep them from scoring, even with 11 men.

    One thing that was disappointing in the second half was that we kept kicking the ball away when we had it, for whatever reason. I guess it was a way to keep composure in defence but in reality we were just giving them more chances to score…

  • Kris

    Well the result could have been worse; we could’ve not scored an away goal that still keeps us in this tie. After all, their two goals only canceled our away goal. What bugs me is that Fernando Torres got sent off. What makes me happy is Fernando’s performances in this game and the game against Betis. He really has been very good up front, and Koke has been making those thru balls that he does so well. Oh, I remember so many through balls from Koke being transformed into goals by Diego Costa.

  • Randy Ved Jawahir

    If I were Simeone, for the second leg, tell the lads to finish the game with ELEVEN men. We hurt ourselves by doing reckless things. That card for Torres shouldn’t have happened but Torres lacked the experience that he more than has enough off. WTF are you doing? Hero to zero. You know you’re on a yellow well compose yourself and finish the game after ninety minutes not 35. His performance up to that point was a 8/10. He’s finding form which is a good sign. But I was utterly disappointed with him for that action, I weren’t expecting it from him. But the team did really well to keep it respectable at 2-1. Carrasco was a nuisance in the first half and the Defense was resolute. We’re still in the tie but someone will have to step up for Torres’ place. We can’t win 1-0 I don’t see it happening. But anything is possible in football. Aupa Atleti!

  • jodo

    From the time Torres was on the pitch, it looked like ATM were going to win or at least get a high-scoring draw. They really looked very comfortable and Torres was the biggest threat. It easily could have been 0-2 inside of 30 minutes. Too bad Griezmann didn’t quite get on that pass from Torres. A 2-2 draw going back to Madrid would have been incredible.

    I love Torres more than any other player, but he really screwed up. Utterly indefensible behavior by a veteran like he is. Yes, the ref could have sent Suarez off on two occasions and he shouldn’t have been on the pitch to score the 2 goals. All that doesn’t excuse Torres’ reckless tackles. You could sense Torres was going to get into trouble. He was just too freaking amped up.

    Pity Torres didn’t stay on the pitch. I think Carrasco was rusty and I was looking forward to him being replaced early in the 2nd half. But of course Torres’ red card blew everything up for ATM.

  • jodo

    Wanted to add that I could sense Torres was in trouble because I remember Torres having a couple of games like these when he was at Chelsea. For example, against Swansea–this was the game after he scored AND had that epic miss against Man United. So the next game against Swansea, he comes out flying, scores, playing well and looking to bury the memory of that miss–and he gets a straight red for a two footed tackle. Spends 3 games on the bench and his Chelsea career is set back…again. He seems like such well-grounded guy but he has his episodes where he really loses his head. He doesn’t bite anyone or anything, but he loses his cool.

  • Chewie

    As the commentators said, we left with a moral victory. 1-2 is the best result we could’ve hoped for with 10 men against a fierce Barca.

  • Usavicente Calderon

    If Suarez had received the two yellow cards, then the second goal may not have happened. Overall, we kept it close, but hopefully the referee will be more even handed in the next game.