At the Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday, FC Barcelona faced Atletico Madrid in La Liga. Here’s the result, what happened, and what we learned in the tie.
A new-look attack from Ronald Koeman
Pedri on the left wing and Ousmane Dembele on the right, captain Lionel Messi was placed in Philippe Coutinho’s usual CAM role as Antoine Griezmann acted as the lone striker against his former cluh.
Griezmann had FC Barcelona’s first chance of note
Stabbing at a Dembele cross, the Frenchman hit just over on a fast break in the opening stages of the match.
Marc-Andre Ter Stegen was tested on a couple of occasions
First by Saul on five minutes, Marcos Llorente then hit the German’s bar and gave Barca a scare after a quick turn.
As was Jan Oblak
A delightful through ball from Jordi Alba across the top of the box put Messi at a tight angle approaching half time, but Oblak guessed right and managed to cushion it at his near post.
Ousmane Dembele almost came off injured
The knock didn’t seem هم serious, but it was thought serious enough for him to nearly be replaced by Francisco Trincao prior to the interval. Not good news, given the packed run of fixtures before Christmas through to January 2021, yet still he came out for the second 45.
Things went from bad to worse for Barca
Ter Stegen way off his line, he was nutmegged by Yannick Carrasco, who then hit into an open net to put Atletico 1-0 up.
Deep in the hosts’ half, Gerard Pique’s poor control with his thigh and loss of the ball made him just as responsible as the goalkeeper.
Philippe Coutinho was Koeman’s first substitution
An ineffective Pedri hooked, it remained to be seen whether the Brazilian could make an impact on the proceedings when in the second half’s first 10 minutes, the visitors barely threatened an Atleti nursing their lead.
A beautiful cross from Messi swung in for Clement Lenglet
But the header was stopped on the line by Oblak, just after Coutinho’s introduction.
Pique’s night was finished by Angel Correa
Unintentionally mind you, though the way the veteran went down was ugly and could have easily seen him break his leg. At present, Barcelona have just one central defender to count on, as ESPN’s Samuel Marsden reminded us while Sergino Dest entered the fray and Frenkie de Jong dropped to the back line once more.
A double substitution provided Koeman’s last throw of the dice
Trincao finally earning some minutes with Martin Braithwaite, the pair came on for Griezmann and Miralem Pjanic.
Barca had continued to come up with little to nothing, and a Messi free kick from his usual scoring rage was nodded out for a corner by Josema Gimenez.
Griezmann also came up short when meeting a Messi cross from the right wing before exiting, and the new entrants had under 10 minutes to pull something out of the bag.
Sergi Roberto pulled a muscle almost scoring
Oblak was beaten by a deflection off the midfielder’s long range effort, but the La Masia product was not well and strolled off at the beginning of five minutes’ injury time without Koeman being able to supplant him.
Diego Simeone finally got his first win against Barca in La Liga
And well-deserved it was, as the Catalans were described as ‘impotent’ by local sports channel Gol.
Rotting in 10th having won three, drawn two and lost three – with a flood of players injured, no money in January, and a packed fixture list without any Christmas and New Year break – makes for grim reading for Koeman’s men.
Once more, they look to the Champions League and a meeting with Dynamo Kiev on Tuesday to paper over the cracks.