FC Barcelona hosted Atletico Madrid in arguably a must win match to save their season. Setien changed it up a bit for his starting lineup and opted for a 4-4-2 formation including the following: Ter Stegen, Alba, Lenglet, Pique, Semedo, Busquets, Rakitic, Vidal, Puig, Suarez and Messi. With a lot of negative headlines surrounding Barcelona, today’s match is one of the biggest in a very long time.
The first half was intense to say the least. Both teams were going back and forth, but it was Barcelona that struck first in the 12th minute. A tight corner from Messi took a fortunate deflection off of Diego Costa and found it’s way into the goal to give FC Barcelona an early 1-0 lead vs Atletico.
The lead did not last long as Carrasco surged on the wing on a counter attack and Vidal committed a foul in the area to grant Atletico a penalty kick. The original attempt was blocked by Ter Stegen but VAR ruled that Ter Stegen moved before the shot and it had to be re-taken. Saul converted the second attempt to make it 1-1. Messi had a chance in the 30th minute as his shot clipped the far post. Minute later Messi saw his free kick blocked by Oblak. The half ended 1-1.
The second half began with less energy from Barcelona but the score stood until the 50th minute. A late challenge on Semedo was called in favor of Barcelona and they were rewarded with a penalty kick. Messi stepped up and chipped in perfectly into the net as he netted his 700th career goal.
His celebratory goal only last 12 minutes as Semedo then caused another penalty and Saul yet again put it past Ter Stegen to even the score. A few chances from both teams followed, but they were not threatening and they match ended 2-2. Another tough draw for Barcelona as they currently sit one point behind rivals Madrid who can open up a three point lead if they manage to win their next match.
Key takeaways from the match
- Suarez should not be starting for Barcelona anymore. He is clearly one step behind everyone on the pitch. He cannot get into the positions he needs to and Barcelona are struggling to pose a threat in attack with him on the pitch.
- Fati needs to start or be brought on earlier in the match. As soon as Fati enters, the energy levels rise and the opposition has to focus on marking him. This pins the defense back, allowing Puig or Rakitic to penetrate the opposition, similar to a Thierry Henry role during his time at Barcelona.
- Rakitic has been phenomenal since the return of play. Though he is aging, he has been reborn after the break and his play has been outstanding.