A difficult, but well deserved result for Barcelona as they managed to salvage a draw from a losing position, this time against their direct rivals for the title.
Barcelona kicked things off and started the game in typical fashion by holding onto the ball and moving the opposition around. Atlético, however, compressed their lines to cut any passing channels in the final-third. It took half an hour for the home-side to find a decent spell with the ball but nothing came of it in the end.
With both teams playing 4-4-2, and Messi continually dropping deep, there were nine men clogging the midfield, effectively killing any quick transitions in the final third for either side. The closest anyone came to putting the ball in the back of the net was when Gerard Pique’s poor clearance nearly lofted over Ter Stegen, who managed to spare the Catalan any blushes.
While the opening 45 minutes themselves were pretty cagey, a late challenge on Sergi Roberto meant that Barcelona went into the locker-room at half-time with 10 men.
Ernesto Valverde made a forced substitution at half-time by bringing Rafinha on for the injured Sergi Roberto. Barcelona opened the half brightly with some quick one-touch passes to bypass the opposition press, forcing fouls from Atlético Madrid.
Atletico Madrid nearly stunned Barcelona at the hour-mark after Antoine Griezmann picked Arthur’s pocket and ran into acres of space. Fortunately for Ter Stegen, the Brazilian recovered quickly, allowing Piqué to close down the cut-back for Diego Costa in the middle.
Things began to boil over in the final 15 minutes and Diego Costa managed to capitalise first as he headed the ball past Ter Stegen from a corner after multiple fouls in quick succession.
Valverde brought on Dembele and Malcom in the final minutes of the game to inject some pace and it worked wonders as the former managed to put the ball past Jan Oblak to equalise and earn Barcelona a deserved draw.
Atlético Madrid: Oblak; Arias, Savic, L. Hernández, Filipe Luis; Koke, Rodrigo, Saúl, Lemar (Vitolo); Costa (Correa), Griezmann
Goals: Costa (77’)
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Semedo, Piqué, Umtiti, Alba; Roberto (Rafinha), Busquets, Arthur (Dembélé), Vidal (Malcom); Messi, Suárez
Goals: Dembélé (90’)