Barcelona remains perfect in La Liga after a hard-fought 2-1 win over Atlético Madrid on Saturday, thanks to a special performance of the 'MSN' trio in the second half that led to a comeback victory with goals from Lionel Messi and Neymar Jr.. Here's a few takeaways from the gigantic result at Calderón.
1. Hey, Mateo Messi, your dad is really good at his job. It seems like Lionel's second son gave his father some inspiration. After plenty of traveling and missing training sessions due to his child coming to this world, Messi was smartly benched by his coach, who wanted to use his best minutes in the final portion of the game. And that gamble paid off: Messi completely changed the match. While Barça did have the possession for most of the game, it didn't create real dangerous chances until the world's greatest footballer came on as a true number 10 and simply dominated an Atleti defense that all of a sudden looked shaky when trying to deal with him. Damn, this guy is incredible.
2. Luis Enrique is a very, very, very good coach. If the Treble wasn't enough to tell you that, he keeps proving it time and time again, winning three straight league games with plenty of injuries and still trusting his rotation system. Putting Leo Messi on the bench at Vicente Calderón against the in-form Colchoneros? No problem! And while his team didn't score in the first half, it still found alternatives without its best player. He also experimented with some tactical changes, like his doomed diamond from the start of last season that was abandoned but is coming back from time to time, and it worked on Saturday. From his ballsy decisions to his smart coaching, you have to come to terms with the fact that Enrique is not bad at his job.
3. The toughest three-game stretch of the season is gone, with 9 points. Even though this is a 38-game league, there are a few games and/or stretches that say a lot about potential title-chasers or teams that fall short when it counts the most. Barça faced Athletic Bilbao at San Mamés, a Málaga team that hadn't conceded against them last season, and Atleti at Calderón. It doesn't get better than 9 points after three really difficult games like these, and to do it with an injury-plagued squad is even more impressive. Sure, there are games against Sevilla, Valencia, Real Sociedad, Real Madrid and others, but no stretch was harder than this, right at the start of the campaign. And the Blaugrana won every game. This team is amazing.