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Atlético Madrid 1-2 F.C Barcelona: Match Review

A review of Barça's difficult away victory over Atlético Madrid in the Vicente Calderón.

Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Coming up against Diego Simeone's Atlético Madrid can be a good barometer of how good you really are. They are a ruthlessly well drilled unit that have often made the big teams take a humbling look in the mirror. Barcelona are a side that knew this all too well and traveled to Madrid knowing a tough game was in store.

Atlético Madrid Barcelona
Possession 31 69
Total Shots 11
Shots on Target 3
Corners 1
Fouls 17
Offsides 4
Yellow Cards 3 1
Red Cards 0 0

The visitors, who were returning to the ground in which they secured the title last season, started with Lionel Messi on the bench. The Barça number 10 missed Friday's training session due to the birth of his second son and having travelled with Argentina during the week, Luis Enrique plumped for Rafinha to start. There was also a league debut for Marc-André ter Stegen as Claudio Bravo joined Gerard Piqué on the injury table.

The game started with Atlético Madrid sitting deep. Looking to absorb pressure then use the pace of Fernando Torres and Antoine Griezmann to attack at Barça. Atlético's organisation meant both sides were limited to half chances but the great ball control of Andrés Iniesta did open up space for the Catalans.

The club captain wriggled his way round two or three Atleti defenders before sliding the ball towards his midfield partner Ivan Rakitić. What looked to be a misplaced pass was well met by the Croatian and he rifled the ball first time but was denied by Jan Oblak.

Iniesta's influence only grew and he was beginning to pick up the ball in all areas of the field. However, his final ball did let him down but it showed positive signs for Barça.

Just after the twenty minute mark, Barça came closest to opening the scoring. A corner was flicked on by the jumping Rafinha into the path of Luis Suárez. The Uruguayan twisted his body to get solid contact with the ball but was left cursing his luck as the effort cannoned off the bar.

Barcelona's injury problems were only worsened in the 25th minute as Thomas Vermaelen, a man who spent the majority of last season injured, rose for a challenge and appeared to pull a hamstring in the process. The out-of-sorts Jeremy Mathieu was the man to replace him.

The first half was littered with half appeals for penalties from the Catalans. On two occasions, Atlético players appeared to use an arm to deflect the ball but they could do little to stop contact with the ball and a penalty decision would've been harsh.

The half time whistle came and the game had a noticeable lack of a four-time Ballon d'Or winner.

Messi remained on the bench for the opening of the second period and for every handball decision Barcelona fans felt went against them, they got a decision their way early in the second half. Javier Mascherano's arm was high as the ball struck it from an attempted cross. Again, it would've been a harsh decision but Mascherano's arm placement was the most unnatural of all the appeals so far.

The referee didn't give it and just two minutes later, we had the opening goal of the game. With a pass that wouldn't look out of place coming from a Barça shirt, Tiago slid the ball through the gap between Mascherano and Jordi Alba.

A delighted Torres timed his run perfectly as Mascherano was left flat footed chasing his ex-Liverpool teammate. Alba came close to catching his compatriot but Torres, albeit with a scuffed shot, found the inside of the left post which then found the net. The Spaniard further contributing to his great record against Barcelona.

But, the visitors weren't behind for long. A free kick was awarded just outside of the penalty area and with Messi on the bench, Neymar and Mathieu hovered over the ball. It was clear that the defender was just there to serve as a distraction as Neymar's eyes drifted towards the corner of the net in which he would be aiming. If you had the ability to pick anywhere in the goal frame where you would want the ball to go, it wouldn't have been much further than where Neymar hit it. Just under the bar and right in the top left corner, meant Oblak stood no chance of stopping it. The visitors had cancelled out Atleti's well worked goal with a set piece that completed the role reversal of the two teams.

With an hour gone, it was time for Barça's main man to make his appearance. If Torres record of 9 goals in 15 games against Barcelona is to be applauded, you're puzzled to think of what to say of Messi's against Atlético Madrid.

The Argentine entered the field against the team which he has scored most goals against and it was immediately noticeable how much of the ball he was getting. Nearly one in three Barça passes was to Messi as they looked to continue their 100% record for the season. The team were coming closer and closer and the fans were treated to the fourth questionable handball decision of the night. This one looked the most legitimate as Neymar saw his shot deflected off the line. Replays showed Godin's hand was all that prevented the ball from crossing the line and due to the fact that it would've been a goal without that hand, Atleti were lucky not to concede a penalty and lose a man to a red card.

Messi's involvement grew and grew and he was the man to lift the visitors ahead. With 76 minutes gone, Neymar and Alba hounded the Atlético Madrid players on the edge of their area and Gabi was the man who mistakenly gave away the ball. These minute mistakes are so often punished by Barça and they were again in this game. Jordi Alba quickly found Suárez whose touch was excellent as he deftly cushioned the ball into the charging Messi's path. Without a break in his stride, Messi lifted the ball over Oblak and into the net. The Argentine ran away to celebrate with his teammates before sucking his thumb in honour to his newly born son Matteo.

The game finished but not before the fifth handball appeal and unlike its four counterparts, this one was given. Filipe Luis pretty clearly knocked the ball with his hand which attracted a question from Leo Messi on why the returning defender didn't see his second yellow card of the game but the referee kept his cards in his pockets and kept all 22 men on the field.

The final whistle blew and and Barcelona maintained their 100% league win record thanks to Neymar's free kick and Messi's goal from the bench.

Roll Call Info
Total comments 783
Total commenters 53
Commenter list #K-DREAMER, Abdul S., Abhishek-Culé, Anders Thomassen, AngelCul1, Anirudh_Kul, AraibKarim, Artemis11, BDBarca, Barca4lif, BarcaBarca, BarcaLifer, Barca_24, Bingiboy, Bostjan Cernensek, Delano Heerkens, FCB4Ever, Jerome Mizzi, KiwiBarca, Lyra123, NamesTroyResideInTheDMV, Nerokis, Neyssi, Piquénbauer, Piyush_, Ragnar_Lothbrok, Richzorz, SUAD, Som-i-Serem, Steven Cordero, Swn.Culé, Trifitology, Uncharted_Almo, ViscaViscaBarca, Z Ahmad, ade fox, agar2515, avyator, barca4life1273, craig00000, el_uruguayo, footballfordoze, goal 1001, henderick.mitchell, kuntakintae, ledhe, madr0id, messism, milesbarca, rhodaime, sharanr1993, syredeathtrooper, turtletrader
Story URLs
# Commenter # Comments
1 ade fox 139
2 Delano Heerkens 95
3 Anirudh_Kul 50
4 Bostjan Cernensek 42
5 footballfordoze 42
6 Piyush_ 41
7 NamesTroyResideInTheDMV 32
8 Trifitology 30
9 Anders Thomassen 28
10 Artemis11 24
11 ViscaViscaBarca 21
12 syredeathtrooper 20
13 Som-i-Serem 18
14 AraibKarim 17
15 KiwiBarca 16
16 BDBarca 15
17 Abhishek-Culé 15
18 barca4life1273 15
19 milesbarca 13
20 Jerome Mizzi 12
21 Uncharted_Almo 10
22 BarcaBarca 9
24 Barca_24 6
25 ledhe 5
26 agar2515 5
27 Piquénbauer 4
28 goal 1001 4
29 craig00000 4
30 AngelCul1 4
31 madr0id 3
32 messism 3
33 Ragnar_Lothbrok 3
34 Lyra123 3
35 Swn.Culé 3
36 Richzorz 2
37 henderick.mitchell 2
38 sharanr1993 2
39 BarcaLifer 2
40 Nerokis 2
41 Steven Cordero 2
42 Bingiboy 2
43 Abdul S. 2
44 Barca4lif 1
45 rhodaime 1
46 avyator 1
47 Neyssi 1
48 SUAD 1
49 Z Ahmad 1
50 kuntakintae 1
51 el_uruguayo 1
52 FCB4Ever 1
53 turtletrader 1

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