Iniesta injury a worry ahead of Champions League
Andres Iniesta was forced off in the first half with a hamstring injury and although we don’t know how long he’ll be out for, he’s in real danger of missing the Champions League tie with Chelsea.
Philippe Coutinho is also cup-tied for that one which leaves Barcelona a bit short. So who will Valverde turn to? He brought on Andre Gomes on Sunday but the midfielder did little to impress again.
Ousmane Dembele is an option, although he’s yet to earn Valverde’s trust (more on that later), Aleix Vidal is also an option and maybe, just maybe there’s a way back for Denis Suarez?
Griezmann fails to shine at Camp Nou
Much has been said about the possibility of Antoine Griezmann joining Barcelona in the summer and the forward headed to Camp Nou having scored seven goal in his last two outings.
However, Barcelona did not allow the Frenchman a sniff at Camp Nou and he barely made an impression, as his heat map shows.
Griezmann with 7 goals in 2 games to this. pic.twitter.com/hi9O9fo6uK— Robbie Dunne (@robbiejdunne) March 4, 2018
Griezmann has famously never scored at Camp Nou and his drought continues, although that may well change if he does decide to swap Atleti for Barca this summer.
Yet another landmark for Messi
Lionel Messi seems to hit a new landmark in every match he plays for Barcelona, but he certainly brought up his 600th goal for club and country in some style.
The little genuis has now scored free kicks in his last three games the first time he has managed the feat in his career.
3 - Messi has scored one direct free kick in three consecutive La Liga games for the first time in his career. Laser. pic.twitter.com/azJNVBswoz— OptaJose (@OptaJose) March 4, 2018
Against Girona he went under the wall, at Las Palmas he hit the top right corner and on Sunday it was the other side - teams may be better off letting him run than chopping him down.
Rakitic hugely impressive for Barca
Lionel Messi will rightly get most of the plaudits for this week but one man who deserves special praise is Ivan Rakitic.
The Croatian was simply superb and barely put a foot wrong for the entire 90 minutes. On and off the ball he was hugely impressive and seemed to be everywhere.
His work rate was fantastic and he was a big reason why Atletico largely failed to trouble Barca.
Valverde doesn’t trust Dembele yet
Ousmane Dembele will have been hoping to see some action after featuring in Barcelona’s last two games but did not even make it off the bench on Sunday.
Some of that may have been to do with Andres Iniesta’s early injury, but it seems clear that Ernesto Valverde does not fully trust the 20-year-old just yet.
He’s right too, even though his huge price tag may demand he plays, Dembele has had a tough season with injuries and has not shown enough. When he has played he’s looked nervous, given the ball away too easily, something Barca could not afford against Atleti.
We will hopefully see him in action against Malaga on Saturday and it will be interesting to see if he gets any game time against Chelsea.