Atlético Madrid earned a valuable point against Barcelona on Wednesday night, as Ángel Correa’s second half goal cancelled out Ivan Rakitic’s opener in a 1-1 draw at the Camp Nou.
The rojiblancos fell behind just before half-time when the Croatian headed home, but responded well and were good value for the result in an impressive tactical performance.
Simeone started Yannick Carrasco, Antoine Griezmann and Kevin Gameiro in attack, but it was his substitutes who will grab the headlines as Correa and Fernando Torres combined for the equaliser.
That came just after Lionel Messi had been forced off with a muscle discomfort, just after Sergio Busquets had also had to make way with what looked to be an injury as well.
It was a fascinating battle between the world’s best attack and, in our opinion, the world’s best defence, with most chances or even half chances snuffed out before they had the chance to materialise.
However, Barça punished Atleti’s one lapse of concentration five minutes before half-time, Ivan Rakitic ghosting in between Gabi and Filipe to glance the ball home from a short corner.
The home side probably deserved it on the balance of play, but the momentum swung in the second half and Simeone took advantage.
Just past the hour mark, Cholo sent on Torres and Correa for Saúl and Gameiro, and in less than a minute Atleti were level. Torres with the assist, Ángel Correa with the beautiful feint and finish.
Barça pushed for a winner, but in the absence of Messi, the visitors stuck to their task and grinded out a point that keeps them in sight of leaders Real Madrid – who were held at home by Villarreal tonight.
The closest both sides would come to taking the victory were through set pieces, Gerard Pique glancing just wide from a Neymar free-kick, before Godín forced Ter Stegen into an action with a powerful header of his own.
A draw was the right result in the end, and although Cholo is still without a win in the Camp Nou, the team can take confidence from the performance ahead of home games against Deportivo and Bayern in the next week.
Jan Oblak – 8
Can’t be faulted for the goal. Played a huge part in securing the draw with a number of solid saves and catches. Can’t speak highly enough of just how good he is.
Juanfran – 7
Won the battle against Neymar tonight, not only keeping the Brazilian quiet but also frustrating him. Didn’t attack much, but did his job in defence.
Diego Godín – 7
Whilst Juanfran took care of Neymar, he took care of Suárez and to great effect. His Uruguayan compatriot barely had a touch, dominant performance.
Stefan Savic – 8 (Man of the match)
We’ve wanted to highlight Savic’s performances for a while now, and tonight seems like the perfect opportunity. Faultless in defence, with great anticipation and reading of the game. Giménez may be waiting a while to get back in the team.
Filipe Luís – 8
In the form of his career at the moment. Gives so much to the team in all aspects, and even managed to get forward at times in the second half. Was a toss up for MOTM between him and Savic.
Gabi – 7
Some pointed the finger at him for the goal, but otherwise he was solid. Can’t ignore all the work he gets through in midfield, on the mark from start to finish. Tireless.
Koke – 7
The motor in midfield. Always effective against Barça, with his one tough play able to relieve pressure and turn defence into attack. Starting to come into form now after a slow start to the season.
Saúl Ñíguez – 6
Wasn’t really at the races tonight. Remained disciplined but lost a few balls in important areas and was a little sloppy with his passing at times.
Yannick Carrasco – 6
Had a great impact in this fixture last season, but apart from a few moments he wasn’t really in the match tonight. Perhaps would’ve been better coming off the bench and running at tired legs.
Antoine Griezmann – 7
Saw a lot of the ball, as he took on the role of the team’s playmaker behind the front man. Not everything he did came off, but his clever movement and link-up play caused problems.
Kevin Gameiro – 6
Can find himself a little unlucky to come off so early, but the substitutions justified themselves. Showed just how useful his pace and willingness in attack could be, helping us stretch the play in attack.
Ángel Correa – 7
Took his goal brilliantly, leaving Mascherano on the floor before finishing calmly. With two goals and an assist – all from the bench – in three matches, he looks to have stepped up a level this season.
Fernando Torres – 7
Made an impact before we had even noticed him coming on with a clever touch for Correa. Relishes these occasions, and despite not scoring he made a real difference in his half hour on the pitch.
Thomas Partey – 6
Other than one rash challenge on the edge of the box, he did a good job of closing down space in midfield and looking to link the play into attack. Nice to see him play after a few games in the stands.
Do you agree with our ratings? What did you make of the performance?