Atletico Madrid 1-0 Barcelona
After nearly a decade-long drought, Atletico Madrid have finally claimed their first La Liga win over Barcelona under Diego Simeone.
Yannick Carrasco’s goal deep in first-half stoppage time after a huge error from Barca keeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen was enough to secure a 1-0 victory at the Wanda Metropolitano.
Atleti are suddenly looking like serious title contenders this season. This big win, coupled with Real Madrid’s draw with Villarreal, has put them joint-top of the table with Real Sociedad on 20 points, and they still have a game in hand.
As for Barca, they are now down to 10th place in the table, nine points adrift of the leaders as their La Liga 2020 odds to reclaim their crown are not looking too good.
Highlights of the game
Barcelona made a bright start to the match, and they created the first big chance after just three minutes. Antoine Griezmann got on the end of Ousmane Dembele’s dangerous cross, but the former Atletico forward’s effort went just over the bar.
Atleti came right back with a good chance of their own. Saul Niguez’s shot from the edge of the box forced a fine save from Barca keeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen.
The home side came even closer to taking the lead on 14 minutes as Marcos Llorente got in behind the Barca defence and unleashed a powerful strike that had Ter Stegen beaten. Unfortunately for the Atleti man, his shot cannoned off the bar.
It took 41 minutes for Lionel Messi to get his first sight of goal, and the Barca skipper was foiled by a fine save by Jan Oblak.
Meanwhile, Ter Stegen would hand Atleti the lead deep into first-half stoppage time. The German inexplicably raced well off his line to try and cut out Yannick Carrasco’s counterattack, but the Belgian beat the Barca keeper, nutmegged him with a brilliant touch and stroked the ball into a wide-open goal.
The second half predictably saw Barcelona ramp up the pressure in search for an equaliser. Clement Lenglet came close with a header on 58 minutes, but it went straight at Oblak.
But moments later, disaster struck for Barca as Lenglet’s centre-back partner, Gerard Pique, suffered a nasty-looking injury after Angel Correa landed awkwardly on his leg. Pique hobbled off the pitch in tears and was replaced by Sergino Dest.
There were initial fears that Pique’s knee injury was serious and could keep him out for several months. Although, Barca reported post-match that Pique suffered a knee sprain and will undergo further tests to determine the true extent of the injury.
Barca continued to be the aggressors, but they were unable to create many clear-cut chances against an Atleti defence that was more than willing to sit deep and soak up the pressure.
In the end, Atleti were comfortably able to see off the match to pick up that long-awaited win over the Catalans.
Barcelona had the edge in both possession (54 per cent) and shots (13-9) over Atleti, but those numbers are a bit misleading. The visitors did not look all that threatening in attack; just four of their 13 shots were on target, with centre-back Clement Lenglet accounting for two of those shots on target.
They missed the presence of teenager Ansu Fati, the team’s top scorer with four goals this season. Lionel Messi, who has a brilliant scoring record against Atleti (26 goals in 29 La Liga matches), continued his underwhelming start to the season.
On the other end, Carrasco was Atleti’s main attacking threat from the wing-back position. Joao Felix, who came into the match in sparkling form and creating La Liga 2020 highlights, had a relatively quiet match and finished with just one shot on target.
After the humiliating 4-0 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League, Atleti are now unbeaten in five of their last six matches, with five wins.
Atleti will look to extend their impressive unbeaten run further when they host Lokomotiv Moscow in the Champions League in midweek. The Russians held Atleti to a 1-1 draw in their first meeting in Moscow. Then they travel to the Mestalla to face Valencia over the weekend.
Meanwhile, Barcelona will also be in Champions League action in midweek as they travel to Ukraine to face Dynamo Kyiv. They will then return home to face Osasuna. The SBOTOP odds should have the Catalans priced as significant favourites over Osasuna, who have won just one of their last five matches (two draws, two losses).
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