An incredibly difficult match. The first meeting of the La Liga season between the Colchoneros and the Blaugranas, taking place at the Camp Nou. As the home team, the match was significantly easier for the Blaugrana as opposed to what it would’ve been at El Calderón, yet el Cholo is not one to make any single fixture an easy outing. As stressful as these particular games between Atleti and Barça always prove to be, they are also incredibly entertaining, and this is due entirely to the influx of coaching and playing talent in La Liga.
Things started well for Lucho’s side, keeping their cool under the consistent, high pressure from Los Colchoneros. The improvement of Barcelona’s defensive unit has allowed the team the necessary foundation to play from the back coolly and accurately. Lucho’s counterattacking tactics provide Barcelona with yet another weapon in their arsenal, which works incredibly well with hyper-aggressive, high-pressuring teams. In this particular game, Barcelona were masterfully switching from counterattacking in quick, one-touch passing when Atleti decided to un-park their bus and attack, to stifling, continuous possession in Atleti’s box. Being able to employ both of those styles successfully is definitely a new terrific characteristic of today’s Barça.
After suffocating the Atletico side for the grand majority of the first 45 minutes, Barcelona deservedly went into the half one goal ahead. Unfortunately, the Blaugranas weren’t able to translate their superiority into more goals, which would come back to bite them after both Piqué and Masche had arguably their worst defensive disconnect of the game, which regrettably happened at the same time for the duo.
Irish Goat's Three Gamboling Goleadores!
1st Goleador: Andrés Iniesta
Second game in a row where Don Andrés absolutely had to be included in the conversation of the Goleadores, and in this particular instance of man of the match. Another blistering performance from the historic player who continues to show some of his best football to date. This was not an easy game in the slightest for any player, regardless of their level of talent. In a team that has the devastating firepower and ability of the MSN, to say none of them truly shined in this fixture shows precisely how difficult the game was. Yet Don Andrés had a beast of a game. Offensively, he stood out as being the best player on the pitch when passing and playing the ball, which, again, was incredibly difficult in this particular game. Sufficed to say his was the only good cross into the box which resulted in a goal, with much credit due to Rakitić for his masterful header. Defensively, it was as if there were two Busquets on the field! All joking aside, he was superb on defense as well, creating many problems for Atleti, pinning them back in their box when they got the ball and tried to counter.
2nd Goleador: Sergi Roberto
Guys, I promise I am not in love with Sergi Roberto even though I know I keep choosing him. But honestly, he had a fantastic game on Wednesday. He did not make a single mistake the whole match. Possibly some small things, but quite literally he had a fantastic match. Defensively he was again tremendously solid. On offense, yes, he was not mind-blowing, but then again other than Don Iniesta, who was? Even Messi, the absolute best player in the universe, was having a tough go of it. No one was really able to cross the ball into the box successfully, so Sergi’s strong performance should not be overlooked simply because the offensive side of his duties were lacking.
3rd Goleador: André Gomes
Not and easy game for the youngster to come into as a sub, even if we assume he is already perfectly acclimated to his new team and isn’t in need of more minutes. Despite the obvious disadvantages of coming into a tremendously difficult match, all while replacing arguably the most important player for Barça, André played like a champ. He was subbed for Busi at a point in the match where Los Colchoneros were starting to click on offense, and he more than held his own. The way he bodied Atleti players off the ball was a thing of beauty.
That is it for this match's Gamboling Goleadores! Please, comment on what your choices would have been. Visca Barça!