In their first real test of the season, Barcelona did not perform close to their best and can count themselves lucky to leave the Wanda Metropolitano with a 1-1 draw against Atlético Madrid thanks to a late equalizer from Luis Suárez. The Blaugrana played very badly from start to finish, but they managed to rescue a point to stay unbeaten in La Liga.
When Lionel Messi nearly scored the opener in the first play of the game with an amazing run through the Atlético defense, it seemed like Barça were ready to dominate at the Wanda and bring the game to Atleti. But things were very different for the rest of the half: the Colchoneros were by far the better team, and Marc-André ter Stegen had to make two amazing saves to deny Antoine Griezmann.
But Atlético kept going and got their goal thanks to a beautiful long-range shot from Saúl Ñíguez, and the hosts got a deserved lead. Barça had all of the possession after the goal, but lacked creativity and movement to create chances and could not trouble Jan Oblak.
At halftime, a very poor Barça deserved to be losing and Ernesto Valverde had a lot of work to do before the second half.
Valverde’s halftime talk didn’t really work, because we saw the same Barça from the first half: lacking pace and creativity to break down a very good Atlético defense. Lionel Messi was predictably the only creative spark, and the Argentine came very close to scoring twice, first with a free-kick that hit the post and then with a shot that went just wide.
With time running out, Barça finally had some urgency in their game and began to attack better, and after a genius cross from Sergi Roberto Luis Suárez headed home the equalizer. Both teams had a few half chances late in the match, but neither could find the winner and the points were shared.
The perfect record is over, and many flaws were exposed in this game. Valverde has a lot of work to do, and it would help if he made some better decisions too.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Semedo (Roberto), Piqué, Umtiti, Alba; Gomes, Rakitic (Paulinho), Busquets, Iniesta (Deulofeu); Messi, Suárez
Goal: Suárez (81’)
Atlético: Oblak; Juanfran, Savic, Godín, Luís; Koke, Gabi (Torres), Saúl, Carrasco (Thomas); Griezmann, Correa (Gaitán)
Goal: Saúl (21’)