La Liga: Barcelona 2 – 1 Atlético

Atleti see red twice as Barcelona score important victory in title-race

Filipe Luís dismissed for challenge on Lionel Messi

Filipe Luís dismissed for challenge on Lionel Messi

Barcelona moved three points clear at the top of La Liga on Saturday afternoon after nine-man Atlético couldn’t do enough to force the issue at the Camp Nou.

Despite an early goal from Koke putting Atleti in the lead, some reckless defending and decision-making saw both Filipe Luís and Diego Godín shown red cards to make life harder than it needed to be for Diego Simeone’s men.

As the referee blew to start the game, Atlético burst into life. Pressing and finding space, Cholo had done his job before the game to lift the players.

The first chance of the game fell to Saúl, who shot from distance after only a couple of minutes. Claudio Bravo did well to get across the goal and tip the shot over his crossbar for a corner.

In reward for their fantastic start, Atlético Madrid took the lead with ten minutes on the clock. Unmarked in the middle of the Barcelona box, Koke was there to volley home a bouncing cross from Saúl out wide to give Diego Simeone’s men the lead.

Barcelona wasted very little time in going for the equaliser, but Godín and the goalscorer Koke were there to deny the Barcelona front three of Suárez, Neymar and Messi.

Atleti came close to doubling their lead just before the 20 minute mark, with Augusto finding space outside of the Barcelona box, but the new recruit from Celta could only fire a yard wide with his fierce shot.

Los Rojiblancos were going in hard on the Blaugrana. Godín and Gabi saw themselves into the referee’s book early on. A resulting free kick from Messi curled just wide of Jan Oblak’s post, but the Slovenian had it covered.

Five minutes later, the Atleti goalkeeper had to pull off a fantastic save after a shot from Luis Suárez tested the ex-Benfica goalkeeper’s reactions.

Barcelona continued to press, and on the half hour mark the home side drew level through Lionel Messi.

Atleti were struggling to cope with the number of continuous Barca attacks, and in the end a simple cutback from Jordi Alba gave Messi enough space to guide the ball into the back of Atleti’s net.

Yannick Carrasco, starting in behind Griezmann in a 4-4-2 for Atleti, put Griezmann in after a sharp pass into the box, but the Frenchman could only put the ball over the bar.

Seven minutes before half-time, Atlético’s defence collapsed again and Barcelona took the lead through Luis Suárez.

A long ball through from the Dani Alves in the Barcelona defence sent Suárez clear, and the striker pulled off a fantastic finish under Jan Oblak to make it two for the homeside.

José Giménez was marking his compatriot, but couldn’t get tight enough to prevent the shot.

Filipe Luís was having an interesting first half. The left-back had been lucky all match not to see the yellow card for a number of different tackles on Messi and Neymar, but the Brazilian lost his mind going into the last minutes of the first 45 and put a high boot in, studs up, to Lionel Messi’s knee.

More often than not a booking, the referee wasted very little time in showing a red card to Filipe, leaving Atlético Madrid a goal down and a man down going into half-time.

Gabi was taken off at half-time. The midfielder was already on a booking and was replaced by Jesús Gámez as Atleti looked to somehow keep alive any chance of some points.

Los Colchoneros started the second half as they had the first, and at time you would not have known that the visitors were down to ten men.

Antoine Griezmann almost put Atlético back on level terms ten minutes after half time, after a Carrasco cross found its way through to the Frenchman in the Barca box. He couldn’t quite get enough of a foot on it and was tremendously unlucky to see Claudio Bravo get a foot on the ball to put it out for a corner.

Just after the hour mark, Atleti were reduced to nine men after Diego Godín was shown a second yellow card for an excessive challenge on Luis Suárez.

Already on a card, Godín should have known better than to go in that hard on Suárez as he ran away from goal. It was a reckless decision from the Uruguayan.

And if that hadn’t made things hard enough for Atlético, just one minute later Arda Turan was brought on for Barcelona to replace Ivan Rakitic.

Simeone had no other option than to take off Antoine Griezmann up front, replacing him with Stefan Savic in order to fill the Diego Godín-shaped hole in Atlético’s defence.

To make things even worse, Atleti were forced into their third change of the afternoon after Augusto Fernández stayed down following a challenge on Arda Turan. The winter signing seemed to have overstretched and was clutching his left leg.

The ex-Celta man looked in some distress as he left the field on a stretcher, to be replaced by Thomas Partey. We hope it’s not long before we see him back on the field.

And just as we’re sat thinking that the day is done, and it can’t possibly deteriorate any more for los Rojiblancos, Arda Turan strikes just wide of Oblak’s post to remind us that things could, in fact, have got that little bit worse.

In the 90th minute of the match, Javier Mascherano gave away a free-kick in a crossing position for Atleti. Jan Oblak went forward to try and add a bit of height to the attack, but Claudio Bravo went up to claim the ball-in.

The defeat for Atlético today will have far-reaching consequences. Not only are Barcelona now clear at the top of La Liga with a game in hand, but the defending champions have cemented their better head-to-head record over Atlético.

If Atlético can pull themselves back level on points with Barcelona, the Catalans will hold the advantage because they have bested the Rojiblancos over the course of this season.

Barcelona Atlético Madrid
Barcelona 21 Atlético Madrid
Messi 30'Koke 10'
Suárez 38' 
Competition Liga BBVA
Location Camp Nou
Date 30 January 2016
Kick Off 16:00 CET
  • Matthijs

    I just want to say two things.

    First, this was the I think the first time this season, despite the loss, that I am really proud of the team. The fought and played well in this game. There was courage and bravoure. Carrasco, Saul and Augusto were the best in mine opinion.

    The second thing is that Gimenez defended really bad at the goals. I think Savic was a better option. And Godin, what the fuck happened to him, so stupid with a yellow card and his experience.

    Now hope to get a good result at Eibar with 3 players in the backline missing.

  • Koke

    What an awful week for Atletico. In the last 3 games we have lost our chance at winning the Copa and potentially even the league.

    The Bad:
    1) Probably the most painful game to watch as a fan this season because if we lost to Barcelona, that in itself is no shame. Every team has been there. It’s the way we lost. There is no doubt in my mind that if things were different Atleti could have won this game.
    2) This is why you kill the damn game off early. Not score one goal and think you can defend the rest of the game. Momentum changes really fast in football games so when you know your team has it you take advantage as many times as possible.
    3) After completely shedding our rough approach this season, after this one game the whole world will think of Atleti as a violent, thuggish team again. I am so sick and tired of the fouls and recklessness. If it was Gimenez that would be bad enough, but Godin and Filipe are old as hell and experienced and should know better than that. Now we will have to play the next game without Godin, Juanfran, and Filipe. I guess Lucas or Siquiera will get a chance.
    4) Griezmann is so ineffective in big games. That remains his one weakness. If only he had put away that one chance…

    The Good:
    1) I absolutely love Carrasco. What a signing. Not only is he talented, but he is a true fighter. Not a fighter like Arda or Costa, throwing shoes at the linesman or being violent towards his opponents. He does all his fighting with the ball at his feet, running from minute 1 to minute 90, taking the entire game on his shoulders even if nobody else on his team is with him. For a team like ours that lacks creativity, it is so important to have someone that can take the ball 60 yards alone. This man is our MOTM and deserves special praise. He should’ve had an assist too if Griezmann finished his chance.
    2) Same goes for Saul. Such a fighter. You gotta admire the kid, with his attitude he can become an Atleti great. I think he can be a more talented version of Raul Garcia.
    3) Augusto won me over this game. I always thought his signing was unnecessary, but there’s no denying he has talent. I really hope his injury isn’t serious. But if he misses a few games, I really hope Simeone gives Oliver, Thomas, and Kranevitter chances.
    4) Atleti played with heart for a few stretches of the game. In the first 15 minutes we were the better team, and in the first 15 of the second half with a MAN DOWN we were the better team again. That’s why this loss is so hard to take. We are perfectly capable with the players we have of dominating games in the opposition half, our coach is just too cautious to let us play that way. Even with 9 men we were fighting till the end. We didn’t collapse and Barcelona was nervous until the final whistle. I saw slick passing, nice vision, and great teamwork to match our physicality. Not to mention some flair from Carrasco, Thomas, and Filipe. We have to build on this and abandon the 13/14 model. Otherwise we can never rise to the European Superpower level.

  • Matthijs

    Can’t agree more!

  • Hannu

    Absolutely!

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    I won’t cry over missing the chance of winning La Liga, because I never asked Simeone to win it this season (although I did say we have a chance, and I believe we are not out of the race yet), the man lost Arda (to a direct rival) lost Raul, lost Mandzukic (who now can be considered a loss) lost Miranda, who wasn’t good last season, but as Chewie pointed out : Gimenez is not Miranda at his best . The man is once again building a new team, he shouldn’t be asked to win any title this season, not even the cup, I will give him that, but with his budget and with the budgets of the other 17 teams I think it’s only fair to ask him to get 80+ points which are enough to finish 3rd several weeks before the end and not wait until the last game like last season, and to do that with good beautiful attacking football, something he is not doing right now, we are playing like shit, and the 3rd place isn’t secure, Villarreal are only 4 points behind and I believe they are a serious threat .

    It seems that Simeone is convinced that it’s impossible to score more than one goal against Barca, why not ?! teams like Sevilla, Celta and Athletic all scored 4 against them this season, their defense is a big joke, anyone can score once and twice against them .. if they played football .

    I don’t give a shit about what the world say about us, fuck them, do you really think that will stop if we even didn’t committ any foul or receive any card the whole league, no way, they are 2 kinds :
    1- Madrid and Catalan media who will keep fighting us and will keep looking for our mistakes, and will make up them if they didn’t find any .
    2- Some stupid people, some glory hunters who support the rich clubs and don’t have any idea about football, rather than Atletico, they don’t watch our games -unless they are against Madrid or Barca or Chelsea- they call us “Athletico” and they read on those football jokes accounts on social media that we are a violent club and they believed it and will never change their mind, I tried, last season I kept tweeting and commenting in some websites some statistics about our fouls and how we were always in the bottom half of the fouls-committed table, and moving between 6th, 7th & 8th on yellow cards table, and how a player like Raul Garcia has received 7 yellow cards, 6 of them were from protesting and many other statistics about us and about other teams (like Sevilla & Espanyol) and videos about other players (like Cristiano) who are really violent but they were never called that, but nothing has changed, it has become a stereotype and it will be very difficult to change, not until we get our own media .. so, again, FUCK THEM .

    Carrasco is good, I don’t think he is great yet, and I will say it again : I think he needs to be more effective, I want less dribbles and more goals and assists .

    I saw a video in a Spanish program after the game against Malaga, after we conceded the goal I saw Saul calling Koke, putting his hand under his chin and saying “cabeza alta”, yes, Saul said that to Koke, not the opposite .
    The kid is so mature, has a strong personality and too much confidence, despite being just 21 .
    Oliver needs some of that .

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    Well, talking about statistics I used to discuss made me miss them, so here is one :
    That’s the table of “dribbles” in La Liga, 9 of those 11 have more goals than Carrasco, players like Suarez, Cristiano, Griezmann and others who have much more goals aren’t even in the top 10 .
    I appreciate his dribbles, but I would appreciate his goals much more .