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Marc-Andre ter Stegen & Lionel Messi: Barcelona’s dream duo

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Incredible showing from the duo at the Wanda

Atletico Madrid v FC Barcelona - La Liga Santander Photo by Rico Brouwer/Soccrates/Getty Images

Where do you even start?!

Maybe at the beginning of the game. Atletico were by far the better side in the early stages and for most of the first half.

Barca rarely troubled Jan Oblak, but as long as the hosts weren’t out of sight by the latter stages of the match, then the Catalans always seem to come on strong against the Rojiblancos.

That the visitors were still in the game at half-time owes everything, absolutely everything, to the prowess of Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

The two saves that the German made to deny Atleti certain goals were world class. And people even dare to mention Manuel Neuer in the same breath?! The Bayern man isn’t fit to lace ter Stegen’s boots.

A stop from Hermoso owed much to his ability to spread himself correctly, a hugely understated element of a goalkeeper’s armoury. It wasn’t ‘lucky’ as some have suggested.

His second save evoked memories of Gordon Banks’ save from Pele in the 1970 World Cup finals. A solid downward header from Morata, close to the keeper’s body making it difficult to adjust and keep the ball out, and yet ter Stegen somehow managed it.

Truly, the club is blessed to have such an exceptional exponent between the sticks, he simply never knows when he’s beaten. What did he cost again? €12m!!

Another player, one who cost the club precisely nothing in terms of transfer fee, continues to amaze.

Just when the game looked like it was heading for a 0-0 draw - which wouldn’t have been the worst result in the world, let’s be honest - Leo Messi pops up with a move that we’ve seen so many times over the years.

Once he’d picked up the ball and seen Sergi Roberto advance, taking defenders with him, we all knew what was about to happen, the only question was whether the Argentinian would get the time and space to execute.

Thanks to Luis Suarez’s featherlight assist, the ball was past Jan Oblak before he’d completed his full-length dive. No wonder Atleti’s players had their head in their hands, some thumping the floor in frustration.

They’d played well, very well actually. And they were undone yet again by a moment of pure genius.

That’s 19 games that Diego Simeone’s side have been unable to beat Barca in the league, a quite astonishing statistic.

Aside from Sevilla, Atleti are Leo’s favourite victims, and Sunday night’s game, perhaps more than any other against the Rojiblancos, showed that you can shackle Messi all you like but leave him alone for a split second, and he will make you pay.

And still people have the brass neck to put Ronaldo in the same bracket...!