La Liga: Barcelona 3 – 1 Atlético

Atleti miss the chance to move into second after disappointing loss

Atleti's defence was undone by Barca regularly tonight

Atleti's defence was undone by Barca regularly tonight

Atlético missed out on the chance to claim second place in La Liga for their own on Sunday night, after losing 3-1 to Barcelona at the Camp Nou.

Some defensive difficulties for Atleti were exposed by the trio of Neymar, Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi, who notched a goal each in Barca’s first win over Atlético in seven matches.

Atleti were spectators for a good portion of the match, as some good interplay from Barca’s offensive trio unpicked the Atleti defence repeatedly.

With seventeen shots on goal for the Blaugrana, they attacked the weakness of Jesus Gamez in the left-back position, and the first goal almost came from that area. Lionel Messi, after beating Gamez, shot just wide of Moyá’s near post.

Atleti didn’t heed the warning this should have given them, and in the 12th minute Barcelona took the lead.

A Messi one-two with Dani Alves found the Argentinean in the box. Godín couldn’t clear the first effort, and the ball fell to Luis Suarez, who had an even worse first touch. The contact caught Juanfran out, as it trickled past his intended clearance and into the path of Neymar, who bundled the ball home from six yards to make it 1-0.

It was almost 2-0 twenty seconds later, but a good save from Moyá after a Luis Suarez shot made sure that the difference was only one.

It was a feisty affair, with nine yellow cards dished out over the 90 minutes. In a lot of cases, the game was lucky to finish with its full complement of 22 players.

The first such incident came after a Barcelona set piece. A pumped-up José Giménez, starting in place of a fit-again Miranda, crunched through Neymar on the edge of the Atleti box. It looked like a fair challenge at first glance, but replays showed he could have given away a foul. Neymar left the pitch with a sock drenched in his own blood. Messi should have seen red too, for an elbow on Gamez.

Neymar returned shortly after and had an excellent chance to make it 2-0. A Luis Suarez piece of skill got the ball away from Giménez, and a chipped cross to Neymar should have been buried. Instead the young Brazilian headed the ball into the ground and wide of the post.

The bad blood continued and Gamez was booked for a tough challenge on Messi.

It didn’t phase Messi though, and shortly after the score was 2-0, after a bit of luck on Barcelona’s part. Messi took a ball out of the air using his arm, and used it to control the ball and run at the Atlético defence. His pass through to Suarez took a slight deflection off of Gabi, but it didn’t stop Suarez from getting his second goal in the league. 2-0 at half-time.

Atleti started the second half stronger, and managed to win their first corner of the game in the 48th minute. However it wasn’t of the quality we’re used to, and the danger from our so-called ‘penalty-corners’ seemed dampened.

But it was time for a bit of luck to shine on Atleti, and if we weren’t converting our corners, then a penalty would have to do.

Lionel Messi, giving away the first penalty of his Barcelona career, got a touch on Gamez ankle as the Spaniard tried to fish out a cross. The ex-Malaga went down hard, and the referee pointed to the spot. The replays show that there was contact, but perhaps not enough to bring our makeshift left-back to his backside.

Mario Mandzukic stepped up to take the penalty in an extremely loud Camp Nou, but the pressure didn’t seem to affect the Croation, who smashed the ball down the middle of the goal to bring Atleti back into it. He pressed his finger to his lips as silence fell across the stadium.

The fans were back on their feet a few minutes later, after calls for a Barca penalty went ignored. A forceful José Giménez clattered into Rakitic in the Atleti area, heading the ball away and knocking the Barca man to the floor. No penalty awarded, although the protests were fierce.

Despite a raft of changes from Cholo, the substitutions had little impact on the result. Fernando Torres, jeered by the Camp Nou on his return, replaced Gabi midway through the second half. Griezmann was sacrified for Raúl García shortly after, but again the change fell flat.

Atleti did start to apply some pressure on the Barcelona goal with a wave of corner-kicks. An excellent piece of skill from Arda Turan nutmegged Piqué and took Iniesta out of the game, before a fierce Fernando Torres shot was spilled by Claudio Bravo. The ball fell to Raúl García on the edge of the area, but he made a bad decision to try to chip the ball in, which was easily caught by the relieved goalkeeper.

The game was over three minutes from time when another display of poor defending from Atlético saw Messi end his goal draught against last-year’s title winners.

An attempted one-two between Messi and Rakitic looked to have fizzled out, but the poor return pass from Rakitic bounced off of a helpless Raúl García and into the path of Messi, who made it 3-1 from close-range.

At times tonight, it was hard to see which club was in alleged chaos behind the scenes. Now three points off of Barcelona, and four points off of Real Madrid having played a game more, Atleti need to shake off tonight’s loss and regroup ahead of the Copa del Rey second leg at the Bernabeu on Thursday.

What did you think of tonight’s performance? Is this a serious blow to our title defence, or are there enough games left to recover?

Barcelona Atlético Madrid
Barcelona 31 Atlético Madrid
Neymar 12' 
L Suarez 35' 
Messi 87'Mandzukic (p) 57'
Competition Liga BBVA
Location Camp Nou
Date 11 January 2015
Kick Off 21:00 CET

Team Lineups

Rakitic (89')
Suarez (90')
Substitutes used
Rafinha (89')
Pedro (90')
Atlético Madrid
Gamez (83')
Gabi (68')
Arda Turan
Griezmann (74')
Substitutes used
Torres (68')
Raúl García (74')
Siqueira (83')

Match Stats

On Target
Yellow Cards
Red Cards
  • ringo st gambo

    I was ashamed of being an atleti fan today

    The only plus today was ardas backheel,

    Where did the growing creativity go?

    Atleti can be a harsh team, but today they were violent

    I’m not a fan of Mandžukič

  • The only mistake from Simeone was Gamez as a LB, but Siqueira’s poor defensive skills forced him to do that
    The rest was simply because Barca are a very big team, as I said yesterday, just because Marca & AS are making a big noise about them and just because they have a bad president and a weak coach doesn’t change the fact that they are a hell of a team
    Of course there was bad defending on the first and third goal, but their pressure and skills force you to make mistakes, when you are in your day you don’t make many of them, and when it isn’t your day you do

    We are still looking for our best shape, still adapting for the many changes, still don’t know who is our first choice LB, and after waiting for some time for Mandzu & Grizi to find the compatibility with the team, now we have to do the same with Torres

    I will NEVER be ashamed of Atleti
    I will take the 3-1 in the Bernabeu next Thursday
    And I am still a fan of the grey kit 😉

    Siempre Orgulloso

  • Chewie

    I was ashamed of the team in the first half. Not for the football – shit happens, we all know that. But for the rudeness. We could get several red cards by the end of the match. Juanfran was lucky to not get the second yellow, as did Gamez. Gimenez’s tackle on Neimar was horrible. Other players weren’t shy to use their elbows and kick opponents’ legs. That was bad – I am okay with playing tough, on the edge, but today, for me, was over the edge.

    And I agree about Barcelona’s strength. When you don’t have a perfectly balanced team, they are always the favourite.

  • I respect your and Ringo’s opinion, but I don’t think we were violent today, O.K, Gimenez tackle was very tough, but I don’t think he meant to hurt Neymar, he was playing for the ball, he is very young and ambitious and that could make him reckless, but not violent, he did deserve a yellow, but that’s the referee’s fault

    Other than that I think there were only harmless tackles and pushes, and involuntary aerial elbows, from both teams

    BUT I must say that I missed the first 15 minutes of the 2nd half, and I don’t know if a serious incident happened at that time

    Anyway, that’s actually makes me more proud, we don’t just have a great team, but we also have great fans, who are against violence, and who don’t have any problem of admitting our wrong actions when they think we did them

  • tohaju thomas

    i think if he really dint want Siqueira at the LB , he could use Juanfran at the LB , and keep Gamez at the RB as he did great last game against real

    it would be much better than what he did today

  • yes, Gamez maybe would have played good on the right, but would Juanfran have been good on the left ?!
    I don’t think so
    He played on the left against a much easier opponent, Almeria, and we lost 2-0

    a right-footed player as a LB just doesn’t work in my opinion
    it never worked with Egypt national team when they tried it many times in the last African Cup qualifications, and they failed to qualify

  • Mrtn

    We literally had no central midfield, Tiago was totally out of pace, Gabi too… That’s why Godin and Gimenez were forced to 1on1s so many times.
    The one thing that really shocked me was the difference in pace between Barca and Atleti. In the 1st half it looked like they were playing against a Segunda team… And this comes after a match where 7 starters were rested…
    Now the left back position raises some questions. It’s a huge blow that we lost Ansaldi when he just found his form, but
    starting the 2nd RB in LB position is a clear sign of total lack of
    confidence in Siqueira, we should offload him this month and sign a
    Actually it looks like the person who decides about signigs has literally no contact with Simeone, considering that we signed 2 world class wingers with a top class striker, which could end very well if Simeone didn’t refuse to use wingers. Now we already lost a 20 Mln player, we got Griezman who has to addapt to a total different position, and although he does quite good, he played way better last year on the wings. There are the 2 left backs, Siqueira and Ansaldi. Now Siqueira can’t be fielded against stronger opponents as we can see, and although Ansaldi seemed very good to me (both in his Atleti games and Argentina cap), Cholo seemed to ignore him earlier. Finally we got Mandzukic, who is a total different player to Costa, needs different type of support (actually he only needs crosses…) still Simeone doesn’t change the style of play.
    Aaaand I almost forgot our 10M Mexican wonderkid… who is so good that we already needed to sign a replacement in Torres…
    And now Cani…
    That’s a lot of money wasted, and a significant rise in the budget too in a Club which has more than 500 M Euros debt.
    This is not the way we should go, spending 20M on a player than offloading him the next transfer window for free is mad.
    I’m sure Cholo didn’t ask for these players. Though I am not convinced Cholo is right, giving up possession against every opponent is a bit frustrating to watch for me, but he is the one who wins the trophies…
    Vamos Atleti!

  • atleti10

    Tiago was slow and lacked concentration when he had the ball, the problem is we only have Mario and Saul the later of whom I don’t think is ready yet. Id have liked to seen Koke in the middle and Griezmann on the wing and play RG8 in behind Mandzukic. Im not a fan of RG8 really but he does disrupt the bigger teams, in fact its all I think he can do. Hes actually starting to piss me off a bit with his play acting and stupidity at times but I know thats why others like him.

    Gamez was an odd choice, even Lucas Hernandez would have been a better choice. It was just a bad game all round, Koke was poor, Madzukic was very poor, even Juanfran and Gabi weren’t great. I just hope we can bounce back very quickly. I’d love another pop at them in the cup.

  • 1- if by 20-million-player you mean Cerci, then for the 100th time : we only paid 8 million for him

    2- since 5 or 6 years everybody is talking about our 500 million debt, and after paying 70-80 million every year as a deal between the club and the tax authorities, it’s still 500 !!
    according to Manuel Esteban “Manolete” the famous journalist at AS and who is very close to the club, the debt for taxes is now 80 million, after paying 70 million last December, and with the debt for other parties, our total debt can reach 200 million, not 500
    and in the next few days we could reach a deal with Chinese businessman Wang Jianlin who wants to invest 50 million in our club

    3- Torres is not a replacement for anybody, he is a symbol for this club and he had to be brought back, even if Costa & Villa were still here

    4- I don’t think Simeone is ignoring Ansaldi, in fact, he is one of the few players he asked for them by name, but his problem is the many injuries he gets
    I agree with you that we should sign a LB this winter, since it’s very obvious that Simeone doesn’t trust Siqueira against teams with fast and skillful attackers, nobody dose ! .. but selling him in this transfer window doesn’t seem a wise move for me

  • Mrtn

    Ahmad please, 70-80 Millions from what? With last years (2013) total income of 123 Millions?
    I was searching many times for our annual reports but with no success. No surprise

    And every report says we paid 18M for Cerci, for me that’s 20, I’m sorry. By the way, even if we paid 8 M for him, it was still a waste.

  • Sierra Godfrey

    Like Ahmad, I agree that Atleti weren’t violent. I saw a ridiculous amount of diving on the part of Barca, which frustrated Atleti. When Mandzu tussled with Busquets, he was frustrated because Busquets went down way too easily. Mandzu’s reaction was not great but I could see where the frustration came from.

    I don’t like to see malicious play and I rarely think Atleti are malicious in what they do.

  • Sierra Godfrey

    I have to say I agree about the pace difference in the first half, Atleti were not fast and not together, but I think this was remedied in the second half when Simeone put in three large men up front.

    But we didn’t offload Cerci for free; Atleti still own him and we pay less for him than Milan pays for Torres so in all it’s a good deal. From what I have seen of his two appearances now, I see Torres getting a handle on the ball and attempting shots. Cerci…well, we all know what we saw of him, not to mention that his personality did not fit with the squad ethos. It was a very good trade and the money Atleti makes in both merchandise, ticket sales, and good will (marketing) from Torres counts is immeasurable.

    Finally, and I don’t mean to disagree with everything you say! But I don’t think we’re 500 million Euro in debt anymore.

  • Max Huber

    I want to say something about Fernandos performance yesterday, even if it was a very short one:

    I think he looked a
    lot sharper than Mandzukic, especially in the air, but he is still to
    slow! I think he could build a good partnership with Griezman, who is
    the fastest player in that team. But I really hope he will get more
    playing time. If Nando is in form he is much better than Mandzukic. Can
    you remember the first games he played for Chelsea in the Mourinho-era
    against Bayern Munich, Schalke and ManU? He was so sharp and fast again –
    but then he got injured again and again and everything went down. If he
    really get the chance to train and play, the confidence of the manager
    and NO INJURYS – I´m sure he is not over!!

  • Jeronamo Pakor Jones

    I’m disappointed with Cholo once again. Gamez at lb, Moya in bar, substituting Griezmann when Arda wasn’t having a good game, leaving Mandzukic to play for 90 minutes even tho he too was horrible and caught up in the atmosphere.
    I really hope he learns the benefits of better substiutions at least from this…

    On to the next one!

  • tohaju thomas

    why to look at the transfer window when we have Lucas who was more than great at the cup game

  • Αθανάσιος Νικηταράς

    Then you should learn Spanish!
    Last year our income only from CL was 50 million! Tickets? Merchanise? La Liga? TV rights? Sponsors? Sellings?
    About Cerci, Jimenez etc every one knows we paid the half money (7 for Cerci, 5 for Jimenez)… So with 7 million we got Torres! Waste?? Maybe 1-2 million

  • AaX

    .All goals conceded from the right (messi). Barcelona did a good study on our defensive game that were highly successful against them last year. Surely the noticed the holes left by Filipe and Courtois big enough for their stars to successfully exploit. There are lessons to be taken from here. The ‘experiment’ that was never should has cost the game. Sorry but Atleti dont wear white nor grey nighties to me. Please let us get the better Alternative.

  • You are right about the budget, last year it was above 160 million
    And you are right about Cerci, since an investment fund paid half of the deal,
    but I’m not sure about Jimenez, BUT the vast majority of Latin American players are involved with third parties, especially the promising ones

  • Chewie

    Moya did all he could. All goals came after defenders’ mistakes when the keeper was already out of play. You can’t parry the ball shot at you from 1 metre. Actually, it’s even good that Moya was in bar, since for Oblak to concede another 3 goals would be a much bigger blow.

  • Jeronamo Pakor Jones

    I prefer Moya in between the sticks that’s all