Barcelona are back on top in La Liga thanks to a hard-fought 1-0 win over Atlético Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano. Antoine Griezmann was quiet in his first game against Atleti and Barça were bad for pretty much the whole game, but Lionel Messi broke Atlético’s hearts once again and scored a brilliant game-winner.
Barça were dominated from minute one of the game, with Atlético determined to press as high as possible and get the ball back in the most dangerous areas of the pitch. They had success thanks in part to a poor performance from the Barça midfield which constantly made bad passes and put the defense in bad situations, and if not for a couple of masterful saves by Marc-André ter Stegen the Blaugrana would have been down at least two goals early on.
After a crazy blitz by the Colchoneros in the first 35 minutes Barça slowly grew into the game and created three big chances: first Lionel Messi robbed a ball in the final third and found Ivan Rakitic who couldn’t beat Jan Oblak in goal, then Antoine Griezmann passed it to Luis Suárez who fired a quick shot that went just wide, and finally Gerard Piqué headed a corner kick into the crossbar. Atleti looked tired and ready to concede, but they were saved by the halftime whisle.
At the half Barça were not playing well at all but had a strong finish to the first period, and if they could build on that they had a chance to win.
Barça looked better to start the second half with more possession and all 10 outfield players inside the opponent’s half, but apart from a few shots from distance they couldn’t really create any chance to truly trouble Jan Oblak in goal. After defending for around 20 minutes the Colchoneros woke up and looked lively again, and they came very close to scoring on a shot by Koke that was brilliantly cleared off the line by Sergi Roberto.
As we reached the final 10 minutes it looked like we were headed for a draw and neither team was going all out for a winning goal, but you don’t need to go all out when you have Lionel Messi. You just give him the ball, and then he goes on a run, makes a one-two with Luis Suárez, and scores the winner.
The full whistle came to end a game that Barça deserved to lose, but they didn’t because they have the greatest player in the history of the sport.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Roberto, Piqué (Umtiti 83’), Lenglet, Firpo; Arthur (Vidal 73’), Rakitic, De Jong; Messi, Suárez, Griezmann
Goal: Messi (86’)
Atlético: Oblak; Trippier, Felipe, Hermoso, Saúl; Correa (Lemar 73’), Herrera (Lodi 87’), Thomas, Koke; Morata, João Félix (Vitolo 66’)