After a very shocking performance in the Copa Del Rey, Barca was back in La Liga action, this time against longtime foes Atletico Madrid.
With this match coming at the Wanda Metropolitano, potential existed for this match to lean on the tough side for Barca. But with a chance to go 3 points clear of Real Madrid on the league table, anything was possible.
How did the match turn out?
Let’s find out.
The first half was a tale of two parts for Barca.
In the opening 25 minutes, Barca were at the forefront in the majority of some very kew aspects. Possession was dominated by Barca, they were also rock solid in defense as well, limiting Atletico to a very small number of chances, if any, in the opening 25 minutes or so.
Barca were also supreme in chance creation, turning their possession into good looking chances on the attacking end.
Most of these chances went by the wayside, as very final details of the attacking periods lacked good final passes and instinctual play.
But those wasted actions while attacking ceased in the 21st minute, when Ousmane Dembele finally converted on one of Barca’s many chances in the opening frame of the first half.
Dembele opens the scoring
After a very instinctual run by Pedri, he found Gavi in Atletico’s penalty area waiting for a pass. PEdri then gave Gavi the pass, but there was still work to do.
Gavi sealed off an Atletico defender, turned his body, and laid a subtle pass off to the blazing Dembele. Dembele then fired a rocket of a shot off his right foot, sent it past Jan Oblak, and gave Barca a well deserved 1-0 lead.
The goal could serve as a big confidence builder for Dembele, who didn’t have a good cameo against Espanyol.
After Dembele’s goal though, things began to break down for Barca.
Atletico put on the pressure and forced Barca into some backbreaking mistakes on both halves of the field. Particularly in Barca’s own half, where Barca suddenly found it difficult to play out of their own half.
Errant passes, poor pressing, all these factors and more led to a very erratic last 20 minutes for Barca in the first half.
Some chances came as a result of these, but none were threatening enough to put a dent into Barca’s 1-0 lead. That’s where he stood at halftime, with Barca holding an important, yet stressful 1-0 lead.
Barca needed a more controlled second half to avoid any overwhelming pushback, but unfortunately for them, that simply wasn’t the case.
The second half was all Atletico.
That might feel like an exaggeration, but in reality Barca were toyed with in the second half. It got so bad that Barca couldn’t find ways to play out of their own half, let alone create chances in the final third.
It felt almost wild to see, since Barca had just put their own stamp on the match just a mere half earlier. But here we were, watching Barca defend for their lives as Atletico suddenly increased their technical quality in both facets of the match.
Chance after chance came, with nothing punishing Barca.
Araujo saves the day for Barca vs Atletico
That is until the 94 minute of the match, when Antoine Griezmann seemingly had Atletico’s first goal in the bag. He found an open net opportunity after some chaos in Barca’s penalty area, and in all honesty, looked well on his way to scoring.
But in came Ronald Araujo, with a clutch game saving clearance off the line, which protected Barca’s lead and gave them more life with Atletico still pressing.
After the clearance, Barca found a way to survive until the final whistle, which gave them a very important 1-0 win away from the Camp Nou amid a very heated title race.
This was by no means an easy match.
Barca had to fight for their life for the majority of the game, leaning on their rock solid defensive line to carry them while they were scrambling.
Some fans might be upset with the performance, and for the most part, I’d agree with all this frustration. But these sort of matches are necessary to grind towards a potential La Liga title.
It’s a shame it had to come against Atletico, but in the end, 3 points to go clear of Real Madrid on the league table won’t hurt anyone.
Barca’s next match
Barca’s next match will be on Thursday against Real Betis. This is a special match, as it’s the semifinal of the Spanish Super Cup.
See you all then!