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La Liga: Atletico Madrid 0-1 FC Barcelona: Match Review

A recap of Barcelona's 1-0 victory over Atletico Madrid, as a goal from Lionel Messi crowned the Blaugrana 2014/15 La Liga champions with a week to spare

Denis Doyle/Getty Images

It’s official! FC Barcelona are the 2014/2015 La Liga champions and they have secured glory in poetic fashion tonight, travelling to the home of the reigning champions, Atletico Madrid and emerging victorious at the Vicente Calderon a year to the day after Atleti secured the 2013/14 crown with a draw at the Camp Nou.

Similar to last year it was a tight match between two evenly-matched sides, but when push came to shove this year, it was Barça’s quality that shone through. Lionel Messi got the fateful goal to win the match with 65 minutes on the clock and while Atleti forced a few good saves from Claudio Bravo, they never really looked like spoiling Barça’s party tonight.

In Catalunya, the celebrations will begin tonight as Culés converse down Las Ramblas to toast La Liga success, but for FC Barcelona, this is just the beginning. Three more matches remain this season, with two trophies left to play for.


Atletico Madrid





Total Shots



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Yellow Cards



Red Cards



The big news headed into the match was that Luis Suarez, despite travelling with the rest of the squad had not received the medical green light, and as such, was not going to be named in the starting line-up. In fact, he wasn’t even on the bench and as a result, Pedro accompanied Neymar and Lionel Messi in attack, with Munir el Haddadi named as our offensive option on the bench. Claudio Bravo aside, that was our only change from the midweek loss to Bayern Munich. Would this strong selection be enough to help us claim the victory we needed to be crowned champions, or would Atletico Madrid spoil the party?


A fifth La Liga title in seven seasons was up for grabs, and FC Barcelona were anxious to get the job done as soon as possible. Just one win from their remaining two matches would be enough, but allowing it go down to the wire would cause unnecessary pressure – so a win behind enemy lines at the Vicente Calderon was the goal. Lionel Messi’s return to playing as a "false nine" was perhaps the most interesting subplot to this match; would it hurt or hinder the Blaugrana? Culés were eager to find out.

It had been a warm day in the Spanish capital, with temperatures still around the 85-90 degree mark by kick-off, although mercifully a good portion of the playing surface at the Calderon was in the shade. Playing in their luminous yellow change jerseys, the visitors were easy to spot, although in the early stages at least they were having difficulties displaying both their usual playing style and the reasons why they were just a win away from the title.

In truth, Barça were being made to look a little ordinary at the hands of Diego Simeone’s side who tried to take advantage of their early pressure and claim the opening goal of the match.

Twice in quick succession, Atleti very nearly succeeded in their quest; the first instance came in the seventh minute when Koke’s inswinging corner found Jose Gimenez unmarked at the near post for an effort at goal. The talented Uruguayan defender didn’t make good contact with the ball, inadvertently flicking it towards goal with his back – but irrespective of whether he meant it or not, the contact was enough to deflect the ball goalwards and it took a sensational fingertip save from Claudio Bravo to keep it out.

Barça were on the ropes and the reigning champions could sense it; a through ball from Fernando Torres appeared to have created another excellent chance, this time for Antoine Griezmann but again Bravo was equal to the effort. Two stunning saves in the space of a few minutes for the Chilean shot-stopper, even if the second ultimately wasn’t required because of an offside flag, at least Bravo had started the match well.

Having faced the early pressure and emerged unscathed, Barça looked to mount some offense of their own in the next stage of the game and while they weren’t as threatening as Atleti, they were forcing Jan Oblak into action.

Lionel Messi, predictably, was the main suspect; four shots in the next ten minutes from the Argentine superstar, although not a single one ever looked in danger of breaking the deadlock. Pedro and Neymar also tried their luck in the same spell of pressure, yet the end result was the same and as a consequence, Atleti were relatively comfortable.

However, the longer the half dragged on in these hot conditions, the more difficult Atleti were finding it to keep pace with the league leaders. Dani Alves, the timeless wonder on the right-flank, was perhaps the first Barça player to really cause some panic in the Atletico backline with his marauding run into the area where he appeared to be dragged down by Diego Godin and a big decision awaited the referee, Alberto Undiano Mallenco.

Straight away, he blew his whistle and Barcelona were expecting him to point to the spot; but alas, he did not and upon production of a yellow card, it seemed as though he had booked Dani Alves for simulation. There was confusion, debate and finally when a free-kick was awarded to the Blaugrana, it became apparent that it was Godin, not Alves, who had found himself in the book. Replays suggested that it was the right call, the initial contact was outside the area and a free-kick was indeed the correct decision.

The angle was tight, but Lionel Messi stepped up regardless and went for goal; his effort had pace and the spin on the ball would have made it very difficult to stop, but Jan Oblak, beaten though he was, saw his clean sheet remain intact thanks to some help from the frame of the goal.

Barça were growing in stature, opting for the patient approach as they searched for that elusive goal that could have wrapped up the title and on the stroke of half-time, they very nearly found that opener. Dani Alves again was involved, this time more directly as he went for goal from long-range. The Brazilian hasn’t got himself on the scoresheet yet this season, so it was quite an optimistic effort but his confidence very nearly paid dividends as his dipping effort forced a fine save from Oblak in the Atleti goal.

The two sides, for the most part, had been evenly matched in the first period and a goalless scoreline at half-time reflected that. With Real Madrid also tied at RCD Espanyol though, Barça were on track to lift the title. So, would we be celebrating at full-time, or would our luck change for the worse in the second 45?


Sometimes, you need to take a step back and observe the bigger picture before you can truly see things for what they are – and in this case, taking a step back at the start of the second-half to watch the match develop revealed that we were basically witnessing a repeat of the first 45 minutes. Atleti started the sharper side, quicker, fitter, more focused and simply better. As a consequence, they created a couple of early chance once again as Griezmann curled an effort wide of the post before Godin uncharacteristically blazed a free header over the bar following a smart corner kick.

Then Torres followed it up with a shot on goal – their first of the period – but it was a straight-forward stop for Bravo as El Niño fired the strike into the goalkeeper’s grateful grasp. That was all in the space of the first ten minutes, but from the 55th minute onwards, Barça were in the ascendency again. And maybe they needed to be as well; news rippled around the Calderon as Cristiano Ronaldo broke the deadlock at the Power8 Stadium against RCD Espanyol.

¿Hay Liga?

Nope. Not quite. Not if Lionel Messi could help it.

And who else would it have been? Ronaldo getting the goal for Real almost confirmed it; Messi may have had a quiet game by his lofty standards but you knew, you just knew that he would have the last laugh.

Everything about the goal personified Messi and Barcelona’s season. The build-up was precise and measured; the final combination between Pedro and Lionel Messi was exemplary and of course, the finish was Messi was superb. Receiving the return pass from Pedro was the easy part; the difficult part was controlling it – and he did so in sublime fashion, rolling the ball forward and into his stride with the studs of his left boot, setting himself up for a shot on goal, delivered with surgical precision into the far corner of the net.

The title was on its way to Catalunya.

Now a goal behind, Diego Simeone decided it was time to go for broke. Mario Suarez was withdrawn in favour of a more offensive option, Raul Garcia and Atleti tried to turn the tide, swing the pendulum in their favour by building some pressure of their own. However, all they succeeded in doing was opening the game up for Barça to strike on the counter and really, it was on the counter that Barcelona should have ended the game after 71 minutes.

Ivan Rakitić was the driving force behind our surge towards goal, running direct at the heart of a depleted Atleti defense before passing on the ball and responsibility to Lionel Messi. It was the obvious, correct choice and Messi picked up the baton in predictably impressive fashion, dragging the Atleti backline further out of position with a purposeful run of his own. All the while, Neymar had been running alongside in support, biding his time, finding the space so that when Messi delivered the pass, he could supply the finish.

Messi did his part, teeing up the Brazilian with a selfless through ball and with a chance one-on-one against Jan Oblak, Neymar looked set to kill off the game and secure the title. Alas, Neymar couldn’t keep his body over the ball when he made contact and the chance went to waste as his shot ended up high in the stands behind the goal.

Cue another offensive change for Atletico, as Mario Mandzukic replaced Arda Turan as Simeone again flexed his tactical muscles in a bid to snatch a draw.

In the meantime, goals were flying in at the Power8 Stadium back in Catalunya; first Cristian Stuani equalised after a mistake from Keylor Navas, but Marcelo and Cristiano Ronaldo struck back to restore normal service – not that it mattered. Barça were still on course for the title. Just minutes separated them from glory...from reclaiming what was rightfully theirs.

Jeremy Mathieu replaced Jordi Alba; Xavi made what’s likely to be his final appearance at the Calderon to a standing ovation from the crowd as he came on for Andrés Iniesta and Rafinha also made a cameo showing, handing Ivan Rakitić some rest for the final few minutes. Enrique was pulling out all the stops to disrupt the flow of the game, and eek out those final few moments.

On the pitch, his side were getting the job done. Neymar won a free-kick in a dangerous position on the 89 minute mark; heck, as time played out, Barça probably seemed more likely to grab a second than Atleti getting an equaliser.

In hindsight, success on the night never seemed in question. Taking a step back, and looking at the bigger picture...this side is destined for something more. For true greatness and nothing, but nothing can stand in their way.

One down, two to go, but for now...

Roll Call Info
Total comments 748
Total commenters 68
Commenter list 0nk0, 1ONE1Y, A.E. Içkeru, A.J.Khan, Abhiforbarca, Anders Thomassen, AngelCul1, AraibKarim, Ayush Tiwari, AzBlaug, BDBarca, BarcaBarca, BarcelonaCobayo1998, Barça Culé DKM, Cacho Cashman, Catalan_Blood, CriRo7, Delano Heerkens, DerkSensei, DudeBV, KiwiBarca, Lapulga, Leo20, Lio10, LocoZZZ, LotusV3, MMcCoy11_FCB, NamesTroyResideInTheDMV, Navz, NoImagination90, R19, Rajesh1101s, Renato Goncalves, Richzorz, Romesh Srivastava, Ruy Diaz, Som-i-Serem, Steven Cordero, StoichkovTheDagger, Swn.Culé, Willis1984, Yuro_Doosh, Z Ahmad, ade fox, akash verma, ammirza, avyator, barca4life1273, craig00000, cule-since-1992, feeya7, giveittomessi, godnkls, khanhung.tran, luck-ycoltsfan19, messism, michael.olivier, milesbarca, navjot.kasukurthy, nolet, robyn_bird96, sachinsa, semperty, shubham2806, syredeathtrooper, uday kakoti, une see, waseem10
Story URLs
# Commenter # Comments
1 Delano Heerkens 84
2 BarcaBarca 70
3 Som-i-Serem 57
4 Swn.Culé 56
5 Anders Thomassen 43
6 BDBarca 35
7 AngelCul1 28
8 KiwiBarca 28
9 Navz 23
10 craig00000 20
11 NoImagination90 20
12 Ruy Diaz 20
13 DerkSensei 19
14 Catalan_Blood 17
15 DudeBV 16
16 Rajesh1101s 15
17 Barça Culé DKM 15
18 uday kakoti 13
19 akash verma 12
20 syredeathtrooper 12
21 shubham2806 12
22 godnkls 9
23 BarcelonaCobayo1998 7
24 Abhiforbarca 6
25 avyator 6
26 Romesh Srivastava 6
27 giveittomessi 6
28 une see 5
29 AraibKarim 5
30 barca4life1273 5
31 NamesTroyResideInTheDMV 5
32 Lapulga 4
33 feeya7 4
34 navjot.kasukurthy 4
35 A.E. Içkeru 4
36 cule-since-1992 4
37 luck-ycoltsfan19 4
38 ammirza 3
39 Steven Cordero 3
40 Yuro_Doosh 3
41 Cacho Cashman 3
42 LotusV3 3
43 R19 2
44 Lio10 2
45 nolet 2
46 0nk0 2
47 1ONE1Y 2
48 AzBlaug 2
49 michael.olivier 2
50 waseem10 2
51 Leo20 1
52 MMcCoy11_FCB 1
53 Richzorz 1
54 A.J.Khan 1
55 CriRo7 1
56 Ayush Tiwari 1
57 milesbarca 1
58 ade fox 1
59 robyn_bird96 1
60 StoichkovTheDagger 1
61 LocoZZZ 1
62 semperty 1
63 khanhung.tran 1
64 Renato Goncalves 1
65 messism 1
66 Z Ahmad 1
67 sachinsa 1
68 Willis1984 1

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