FC Barcelona went in the Vicente Calderon on Wednesday night to try and eliminate Atletico Madrid—not an easy task to say the least.
And in less than a minute, FC Barcelona was punched in the mouth, as Fernando Torres scored even faster than he did at the Santiago Bernabeu against Real Madrid.
But Barça persevered, and was able to come back and defeat Atletico Madrid 3-2 at the Vicente Calderon on Wednesday night.
As mentioned, Torres got the scoring started in less than a minute. But Neymar leveled it in the ninth minute, as Lionel Messi found Luis Suarez who lastly found Neymar for the equalizer and the all-important away goal.
Like any game at el Calderon, it was a psychical game that saw controversial calls. We saw a terrible call against Javier Mascherano to give Atleti a penalty, converted by Raul Garcia to make it 2-1 (2-2 on agg.). A Miranda own goal brought Barcelona back to 2-2 (2-3 agg.). We saw Jordi Alba get hit/run into the linesman's flag, which was one funny moment in the game. Lastly in the first half, a tremendous play by Barça set up the third goal. Messi found a speeding Jordi Alba who somehow was able to get it to Neymar and the Brazilian prince had the easy goal. Magic from D10S, Jordi "The Flying Squirrel" Alba and Prince Neymar.
Jordi Alba to Neymar, the last one scoring after a great first touch. Barcelona are leading 2-3. https://t.co/FSfL1EqfXN— 433LIVE (@433LIVE) January 28, 2015
In the second half, there were no goals, but there were more Atletico antics. Gabi was sent off during halftime. After the game, Gabi said, "My words were, 'Jesus, it was a penalty (Jordi Alba handball inside the box) and send off' and he told me 'you're out'." Down to 10 men and needing 3 goals to advance, Diego Simeone decided subbed out offensive threat Antoine Griezmann, essentially waving the white flag. Mario Suarez was sent off after receiving his second yellow card. But perhaps the strangest most intense moment of the second half came when Arda Turan threw his boot and didn't get sent off!
Here's Arda Turan throwing the boot at the linesman: http://t.co/h3OdFA5Biy— Rafael Hernández (@RafaelH117) January 28, 2015
Needless to say, Twitter had fun with Arda's bizarre moment.
Picture: young Arda Turan and Arda Turan currently. Amazing transformation. pic.twitter.com/Z6DXHjuPvw— Fatima Yasin (@fatimayasiin) January 28, 2015
Terrible refs...as usual
The officiating was terrible, as usual in La Liga. I guess we shouldn't complain about the refs since they are at least consistent in being terrible. I'm never surprised to hear that a referee is favoring a Madrid team. One play that caused a goal for Barcelona was when Neymar was called offside when he was in fact onside.
Another play that caused a stir was the play that saw the ball hit Jordi Alba in the left forearm. Just 11 seconds later, Alba was making the cross to Neymar for the goal that essentially ended the game.
I guess I shouldn't say all calls favorite Madrid team.
This FC Barcelona win reminded those who may have forgotten that this team is more than capable of playing counterattacking football. Barça's system is not tailor-made for the counter, but when it happens, look out! Neymar, Messi and Suarez are all skilled to play counterattacking football not just because of the goal-scoring abilities, but because each one is obviously special at the passing and crossing game. Wednesday night's standout player was clearly Neymar, with his speed that beat Atleti once again. But let's remember to praise Messi for his playmaking on both of Neymar's goals. Messi didn't get the assist in either goal, but it was his brilliance that set up both Suarez and Alba who then assisted Neymar for the goals.
Neymar: hated on by Atleti fans
Since we're on the topic of Neymar, let me just say that I find it extremely humorous how the Atleti fans despise the Brazilian. Ney is constantly getting booed, and for plenty of reasons. It was Neymar that scored the away goal that led to Barça winning last season's Spanish SuperCup. Neymar also scored Barça's lone goal in last season's Champions League quarterfinal matchup. Juanfran even put up seven fingers toward Neymar, referencing to Brazil's 7-1 defeat at the hands of Germany in the 2014 FIFA World Cup semifinals (a game Neymar didn't even play in). Neymar has been a stone in Atleti's shoe, and the Colchonero fans can't stand him. Neymar will continue to upset and make Atleti fans for many years to come.
As I said on Twitter: Atleti players love to kick Leo Messi, while Atleti fans love to boo Neymar.
Haters gonna hate.
Lucho turning the corner?
FC Barcelona's win and elimination of Atletico de Madrid is the most important win of Luis Enrique's tenure as manager. As much as I have criticized Lucho, I must say he is getting it right as far as the lineup since the disaster against Real Sociedad. Now, let's not go too far and think somehow think Lucho is saving his job with his team's recent winning streak. A new club president will be elected in June and will bring in his own manager. That is for the future, but for the now, Lucho and the players are on a roll. This win was, for the most part, a solid team win, Gerard Pique continues his resurgence, the defense was solid—despite Mascherano's lone mistake on Torres and a bad PK call—and the offense counterattacked excellent. Lastly, Marc-Andre ter Stegen made the saves when needed. The midfield is still not up to Barça standard, but fortunately for Lucho, it wasn't needed on this night. Let's hope that Lucho works on the midfield, as the mids need to wake up and click, because they will be needed in big games (Champions League, second Clásico).
After the game, Luis Enrique praised his team for staying calm and focused in a hostile environment. "I liked everything about my team. Starting with how they reacted to a strange situation at the start."
Lucho is right. His team stayed calm and fought back. It wasn't a typical Barcelona win as far as style, but no one can complain with a win against a tough Atleti team on the road. Lucho has this team rolling for now. Let's give him some credit, and hope this team success grows. I'm not going to say Barcelona has enough to overtake their own weaknesses and their opponents' strengths to win the Champions League, but this team is playing its best football of the season these past few weeks, and these wins against Atleti must be acknowledged and given proper praise. I know expectations are always high at Barcelona, but this season—and with a new club president coming in June along with a new manager—let's just play it by ear and see where this season goes.
In 17 days pic.twitter.com/E4Sl8UUvgf— ADIL ✌ عادل (@Barzaboy) January 29, 2015
Xoel's Final Word
It was a tough, physical game—as all games at the Vicente Calderon are—and FC Barcelona stayed calm, did their job, and left Madrid with a 3-2 wins, 4-2 on aggregate, to advance to the Copa del Rey semifinals.
With both Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid out of the Copa, the road to the Copa title is as easy as it may ever get for Barça. Focus is always needed and upsets can happen at any time, but it's safe to say that Barcelona is the clear favorite to lift the King's Cup trophy.
All Culés should enjoy this hard fought and much deserved win by their club. Gràcies Barça!
- Copa del Rey: Atlético Madrid 2-3 FC Barcelona: Match Review
- Copa del Rey: Atletico Madrid vs FC Barcelona: Live Game Thread
- La Liga: Elche CF 0-6 FC Barcelona: Player Ratings