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Five talking points from Barcelona 1-0 Atletico Madrid

An important win for the Catalans

Fc Barcelona V Altetico De Madrid - La Liga Santander Photo By Marc Graupera Aloma/Europa Press via Getty Images

Barca reignite title charge

Barcelona got their title charge back on track with an important win over an in-form Atletico at the Camp Nou. After disappointing goalless draws against Getafe and Girona, it was important to win this game and that’s exactly what Barcelona did.

Xavi’s side were boosted by the return from injury of Frenkie de Jong and Pedri. The Dutchman was named in the starting XI for the match, while Pedri came on as a substitute in the second half at the Camp Nou.

Ferran Torres turned out to be Barcelona’s match-winner, with a well-taken goal after good work from Raphinha. There are still plenty of question marks over Ferran at Barcelona, but this was a good moment for the former Manchester City man.

The win restored Barcelona’s 11-point lead at the top of the table and brings the title one step closer. The Catalans now just have eight games left to play and Xavi will be hoping they can wrap up the title as soon as possible after returning to winning ways.

Goal drought ends but concerns remain

Barcelona headed into the Atletico match having gone three games without a goal but finally ended their drought just before half-time. Torres’s effort was Barcelona’s first in almost 350 minutes of play.

Yet problems remain in Barcelona’s attack. The team had more chances but couldn’t add more goals. The clearest chance was perhaps when Robert Lewandowski was sent clear and only had to pass to Raphinha but went for goal himself and missed.

Xavi admitted after the match his team should have scored more goals.

“I have the feeling of having wasted chances to make it 2-0, they were very clear. Rafa’s, Robert’s, one from Gavi at the penalty spot. In the end you end up suffering a game that you deserved to win by more than one goal.”

The imminent return from injury of Dembele may help matters. Xavi confirmed before the game that the Frenchman should play next week, either against Rayo or Real Betis.

Ter Stegen equals club record for clean sheets

Once again, Barcelona’s win owed much to the backline as Barcelona kept a 23rd clean sheet of the season. That’s now just nine goals conceded in 30 La Liga games during the current campaign – ridiculous stuff.

Antoine Griezmann was the man in form ahead of the match but saw his recent goalscoring run come to an end, not least because of Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

The Frenchman hit the woodwork early on but was then twice denied by the Spaniard as Ter Stegen equalled Claudio Bravo’s Barcelona record of 23 clean sheets from the 2014-15 season.

Ter Stegen will surely beat that record before the campaign is out to crown what has been an immense season for the Germany international and his magnificent hair.

Welcome back, Frenkie & Pedri

The sight of De Jong and Pedri back on the pitch for Barcelona was a welcome one for culers. The duo have been missed over the last few weeks, and we realized just how much on Sunday afternoon.

De Jong was superb in midfield and didn’t look like he’d missed a month, while Pedri was also sharp after he emerged from the bench in the second half.

Xavi was also happy to be able to call upon the two midfielders once again.

“Without taking away anything from the other players, they are vital players for us,” said. “They improve everything that comes to them. They understand our model of play, that’s why they are so crucial to what we do.

“Frenkie was brilliant this afternoon. Pedri also improves everything. He brings calm when the ball comes to him. For all the forwards, the presence of Pedri will improve them.”

Barca have stuttered in recent weeks, perhaps unsurprisingly with a number of key players out, but this was a big step forwards on their way towards the title.

Raphinha gets over himself

Raphinha ended Barcelona’s last game in another sulk after being withdrawn late on, and there were rumors in the week that the Catalan giants were getting a little tired with the Brazilian’s attitude in his debut season.

However, the forward’s attitude was pretty spot on against Atletico, and he even walked off with La Liga’s MVP award for his performance. Raphinha set up the only goal of the match and looked a threat throughout. There were also no tantrums when he was withdrawn late on for Ansu Fati.

Raphinha’s attitude may be tested a bit more in the coming weeks, with Dembele due back from injury after almost three months on the sidelines. The Frenchman is a favorite of Xavi’s and could well go straight back into the starting XI when fit.

There have been rumors that Raphinha could be sold if the price is right in the summer, but he now has 10 assists and 9 goals in his first season despite enduring an inconsistent campaign.

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