Copa del Rey: Barcelona 1 – 0 Atlético
Atleti with it all to do in the second leg next week
Atlético Madrid have a lot to do at the Vicente Calderón if they are to get through to the semi-finals of this season’s Copa del Rey, after a late Lionel Messi penalty handed Barcelona a 1-0 win at the Camp Nou on Wednesday evening.
The only goal of the game came in the 85th minute, and it means that Atleti need to score at least two goals, and stop Barcelona from scoring, if they are to make the final four of the King’s Cup. (Or risk penalties.)
In a match that had a very different tone to the one here 10 days ago, it was a lapse in Atleti’s concentration that handed Barcelona the decisive goal.
The game started well for Atleti. Koke had the first chance of the game very early on, when he lashed a wild shot over the bar. It looked optimistic though, and Atleti threatened on occasion.
However, like the Camp Nou last Saturday, Barcelona grew into the game. Neymar tested our Slovenian goalkeeper’s reflexes with a sharp shot from outside of the area, but Oblak was equal to it and pushed the ball out for a corner.
Atleti managed to get a foothold in the game more as the first half went on, and perhaps should have taken the lead when an excellent Siqueira cross was headed over the bar from close-in by Antoine Griezmann.
Not 60 seconds after this and Barcelona should have taken the lead. An inventive ball through to Luis Suarez from Rakitic looked destined for the back of the net, but the serial-biter skied a half-volley over the bar.
It was a first half of chances for both sides, that were either cleared by the excellent goalkeeping performance from Oblak, or by lack of composure from Atleti players.
Despite being handed a start alongside Griezmann, Fernando Torres never really got going in the match. Picked instead of Mandzukic, El Niño did very little in terms of holding the ball up, and the one opportunity he did have to make the difference went horribly awry.
The Spaniard found himself with the opportunity to charge towards goal, with Antoine Griezmann running on his left-hand side. However it seemed the 31-year-old didn’t trust his legs, and decided to put the ball through to his strike-partner for a one-on-one with Gerard Pique.
The final ball was poor, and it bounced off of Pique’s heel. Torres tried to react and reclaim the ball, but slipped, and ended up in a heap on the turf of the Camp Nou.
Fernando was replaced at half-time by Mario Mandzukic, and it was in the second period that the game shifted in Barcelona’s favour.
For the last 40 minutes of the game it seemed like an exercise in attack versus defence – one that Atlético’s defence was well and truly up for.
Atleti proved extremely difficult to break down, and were efficient in clearing the ball when it was in a dangerous position. This seemed to frustrate the Barcelona players, and their anger started to show.
It was most obvious on Luis Suarez, who resorted to throwing himself all over the pitch in order to get the referee to notice him.
On one such occasion he went down like a bag of bricks in the box after Mario Suarez had brushed the side of his face. Not a moment later, and the Uruguayan leaned into Miranda so much that the striker lost his balance, before claiming for yet another foul.
The most unconvincing spectacle of all though came a few minutes later, when after shoulder barging with Diego Godín, Luis Suarez decided to take a couple more steps before throwing himself to the ground on the Atleti penalty area.
The Barcelona players hounded the referee at every opportunity – it seemed to be the only way to break Atleti down – get themselves a set piece.
A Siqueira tackle on Lionel Messi ended up in a foul, and in the end was the turning point that gave us the only goal of the night.
A poor free-kick into the box was blocked by the Atlético wall, and after a ricochet off of a number of different players, the ball fell to Sergio Busquets – who was already on his knees when the ball come to him.
A momentary lapse in concentration from Juanfran meant the Spaniard tried to take the ball off of Busquets, but he instead caught him on the inside of the leg. Barcelona’s midfielder went down hard and the referee pointed to the spot.
On viewing replays, it didn’t much look like a penalty. Sure, there was contact, but with at least ten men surrounding the ball there was no way the referee could see it. Still, it was equally as lucky that Juanfran wasn’t handed his second yellow card of the evening, after being cautioned just before half-time.
Lionel Messi stepped up to take the penalty and hit it hard and low to Jan Oblak’s left. The Slovenian did well to guess right and made a fantastic save, however it bounced right back out to Messi who scored the rebound. Unfortunate for Atleti, and Barcelona took the lead.
Things got worse as the clock ticked down. Diego Godín was booked for a foul on Lionel Messi, meaning that he will miss the return leg at the Vicente Calderón. The resulting free kick was put well over the bar by Messi.
Without an away goal, Atleti welcome Barca to the Vicente Calderón for the first time as league champions next Thursday, as the second leg of the semi-finals begins.
Do you think we can stop Messi, Neymar and the sharp-toothed one from scoring next week?
|Messi (p) 85'|
|Copa del Rey QF 1st Leg|
|Camp Nou, Barcelona|
|21 January 2015|
|F Torres (45')|
|Raul Garcia (66')|
|Raul Jimenez (87')|