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Atletico Madrid welcomed Barcelona in a crucial early season clash between two title contenders looking to climb the table.

It was an even start over the first 10 minutes with both sides moving the ball quickly without posing any real danger. Felix, a surprise starter, was full of running and energy as he got himself into some good positions. The Blaugrana were having to work hard in order to make breakthroughs in the hosts’ defence and then they fell behind. A lovely half turn by Felix found Suarez in a dangerous position who slipped in Lemar to lash in the game’s first goal.


Coutinho had a chance to level but put his first time effort past the post while Suarez should have doubled the lead after a neat one-two with Felix but curled his shot just wide of the post. Barcelona were pushing forward despite Atletico’s threat on the counter as they looked to get back level before halftime. Los Rojiblancos were happy to defend what they had it seemed.


That counter attack did eventually come just before the break and to devastating effect. Felix and Lemar played Atletico out of a tricky situation with the latter finding Suarez in acres of space. The Uruguayan’s was one-on-one against Ter-Stegen and coolly slotted the ball home to net against his 31st team in La Liga. Barcelona players were downcast and it would take something really special to galvanize them after halftime.



The second half started in a more even manner, Barcelona still enjoying lion’s share of the possession and Atletico happy to sit off. Coutinho had the best chance at the stroke of the hour mark, but his shot was straight at Oblak who held on well. On the other side, Felix had a golden chance to add to the scoreline but his strike was down the throat of Ter-Stegen.


The rest of the 20 minutes largely passed by without any action of note. Both sides made a lot of substitutions that slowed the pace of the game considerably as Atletico were content to hold what they had. Barcelona never looked like even getting one goal back with Koeman once again pushing Araujo forward for the final five minutes of the match. Atletico saw out the match well and earned a comfortable win to further increase the despair of their opponents.

Here are the three key takeaways from the match:


Diego Simeone’s side would have felt good about their chances, especially after Benfica trouncing their opponents midweek. Felix getting his first start of the season was certainly an inspired decision that paid of brilliantly. He was full of running and trickery along with intelligent gameplay whenever he had the ball. Both the goals involved him alongside Suarez and Lemar who were lethal when the chances fell to them.


The second half was a sedate affair but the job had already been done. A hat-tip to their solid defensive line as well which really showed glimpses of their old mettle. Barcelona tried and tried but there were never any really clear cut chances to take advantage of throughout the match.



Yes, it is just their first defeat of the La Liga season but the recent times have not been kind to the Blaugrana. Two chastening defeats in the Champions League along with some insipid draws against “weaker” oppositions have increased the pressure on Ronald Koeman manifolds. The Dutchman had to watch from the executives’ box as his side failed to inspire themselves or the fans back in Catalonia.


Pique and Busquets had a shouting match after the first goal as they were cut open far too easily gave away to general disappointment when Suarez made it two after finding all the space in the penalty box. Possession means little if one cannot make meaningful use of it which was the case tonight with Coutinho getting the best chance that was well saved by Oblak.



Joan Laporta came out today, fully endorsing Koeman to stay on as the manager while stressing that the result of this match would have no bearing on the coach’s future. Nevertheless, it could not have felt great to see another listless performance which are getting all too common. Even with Luuk de Jong and Araujo in the box towards the final portion of the game, there were not a great deal of crosses put in as was the case against Granada. Furthermore, the decision to replace the lively Dest with Lenglet for leftback was just a baffling decision. It remains to be seen how long Laporta is willing to give his manager if these things continue. Barcelona’s despair is painful to watch for football purists around the world.

Ratul Ghosh
His name means Red and a fan of devilish food, which equals to his favourite team being Manchester United. Can be found sleeping or in front of the TV otherwise. Hates waking up early but loves staying up late for football.

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