In a match that Atletico Madrid felt they could have came out the victor and Barcelona needed to win, star man Lionel Messi once again stepped up late on and gave his side the victory. Midfielder Rafinha had given Barca the lead during the second half but Madrid’s Diego Godin made it 1-1, leaving Messi to smash it home on 87 minutes, which give Atletico very little time to respond.
Atletico welcomed back goalkeeper Jan Oblak and world class defender Diego Godin after time on the sidelines and Oblak stopped Messi in the first half from a pinpoint free-kick. Atletico were the better team in the opening minutes and had a fair few chances that they failed to capitalise on. As the half went on, Barcelona started to express themselves more freely and striker Luis Suarez, along with Neymar were becoming a real threat. With half-time approaching fast, Atletico pushed forward once again to no avail and the game remained 0-0 after 45 minutes.
Neither manager changed their tactics in the second half and it wasn’t long before Atletico found themselves defending deep inside their own half. Before long, it became the powerful attack of Barcelona versus Atletico’s defensive wall but it was the away side that scored first. Rafinha was on hand to glide the ball under Oblak after skillful play involving Ivan Rakitic, Samuel Umtiti and Leo Messi. As Fernando Torres was brought on, Simeone showed his urgency and Atletico pulled back onto level terms when the returning Diego Godin got the slightest touch on a Koke free-kick to make it 1-1.
From there it was back to as you were, as Barcelona pushed forward and Atletico retreated in the hope of catching the away side on the break. It was Messi, however, who put the game to bed when Suarez attained the ball and pulled it back to the Argentine. His initial shot was blocked by defender Savic but it fell kindly to the Barcelona attacker and he put the ball away at the second time of asking. For the second time in two weeks, a late Messi goal saved second-placed Barcelona and earned them all three points as Simeone’s objectives remain staying in fourth while Luis Enrique still dreams of a La Liga title for his side. Lionel Messi now has 20 goals in 21 appearances which keeps him top of the La Liga top scorers list, with Barca teammate Luis Suarez and Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo taking up second and third respectively.
Atletico Madrid: Oblak, Filipe Luis, Savic, Godin, Vrsaljko, Koke, Gabi, Saul, Ferreira-Carrasco (sub Torres, 68), Griezmann, Gameiro (sub Correa, 72).
Unused subs: Moya, Gimenez, Hernandez, Gaitan, Partey.
FC Barcelona: ter Stegen, Umtiti, Pique, Mathieu (sub Digne, 77), Busquets, Rafinha, Sergi Roberto (sub Andre Gomes, 85), Iniesta (sub Rakitic, 71), Messi, Neymar, L. Suarez.
Unused subs: Cillessen, Jordi Alba, Denis Suarez, Paco Alcacer.
Atletico Madrid: Saul, Savic, Gabi, Correa.
FC Barcelona: Busquets, Messi.
Atletico Madrid: Godin (70′)
FC Barcelona: Rafinha (64′), Messi (86′)
Feature image credit: BruceW