FC Barcelona’s catastrophic start to the La Liga keeps on. Atlético Madrid pulled off their first La Liga win over Barcelona in more than a decade. The Blaugrana are now 9 points behind Atlético Madrid, thanks to a 1-0 loss at their hands at the ‘Wanda Metropolitano’. Diego Simeone’s side started this clash with a 23-game unbeaten streak in the league, their longest ever in the competition. With both Real Madrid and Barça looking flawed this year, Atlético feels a repeat of their 2013-14 triumph is very much possible. Atlético ends their 20-game winless streak against Barça in La Liga which resulted in extending their unbeaten streak as well. Él Cholo is certainly delighted!
Atlético scored a bizarre winner thanks to a surprising error from one of the best goalkeepers in the world, of course, because even he is a human. Yannick Carrasco’s goal proved to be the difference as he capitalized on a blunder by Marc-André Ter Stegen. Ángel Correa got his 5th La Liga assist and is currently the highest assist provider in the league. Barça’s stuttering start under Ronald Koeman continues! This is a really awful and disappointing start to the season and the Culés are extremely disheartened.
FORMATION – (5-3-2)
Defense – Trippier, Savić, Giménez, Hermoso, Carrasco (Felipe – 90’+1)
Midfield – Llorente (Diego Costa – 73′), Koke, Saúl
Forwards – Correa (Kondogbia – 84′), João Félix (Lemar – 84′)
FORMATION – (4-2-3-1)
GK– Ter Stegen
Defense – Roberto, Piqué (Dest – 62′), Lenglet, Alba;
Midfield– Pjanić (Braithwaite – 83′), De Jong;
Forward– Dembélé, Messi, Pedri (Coutinho – 57′); Griezmann (Trincão – 83′)
Though Barça played badly during the entire match, the first half was a bit more decent. Saúl Ñíguez produced a magnificent shot but Ter Stegen deflected it to a corner brilliantly. Antoine Griezmann fired a shot just over the crossbar. Later, Marcos Llorente hit the woodwork. Thus, the game continued to entertain the fans in many ways.
However, as time passed by, the game became fairly run-of-the-mill. Barça carried on with more possession of the ball whereas Atlético played a defensive five deep inside the box. This led to Barcelona swedging in finding any spaces to create a goal. There was a moment of hope for the Culés when Jordi Alba provided an excellent pass to an unchaperoned Lionel Messi inside the box, only for the captain to waste such a great chance to score after the Blaugrana captain sent the ball right into Jan Oblak.
Looking at the dreary first half, it was expected to be goalless. Atlético Madrid players started showing their frustration by committing a lot of fouls and quite a lot of them got booked too. Their frustration bore fruit when Ter Stegen decided to play sweeper keeper and Carrasco nutmegged him and scored a tap-in from 40 yards and finished the half with a 1-0 lead.
Carrasco’s opportunistic strike was the difference between Atlético and Barça at half-time. It was quietly absorbing rather than a raucous affair, with both sides having their opportunities. Carrasco was the game’s best player in the first half. Barça, as ever, looked like they’ll have to rely on Leo Messi to get them out of this.
Barça started pretty slowly and failed to create any chances for quite some time. Miralem Pjanić and Ousmane Dembélé fired some really weak shots from a distance. Clément Lenglet had two clear headers stopped by the athletic and extraordinary Jan Oblak. To add insult to injury, Gerard Piqué had to wobble off the field with a serious-looking knee injury. This resulted in Frenkie De Jong playing as a temporary Centre-Back. As the game reached the final 15 minutes, Leo Messi’s shot was blocked off from 20 yards. The Blaugrana looked like they weren’t going to make a dramatic comeback or even equalize for that matter. They started getting desperate and clumsily tried to break down the Atlético defense but in vain.
The final whistle ended a disastrous performance from FC Barcelona and put more pressure on Ronald Koeman as they again failed to capitalize on their chance to get ahead in the La Liga table. Barça ended with a 55% possession and 13 shots but to no avail. Atlético were very comfortable in the second half as it was evident when most of their fouls came in the first half.
Ronald Koeman’s 4-2-3-1 formation looks pretty great on paper but isn’t yet working. Barça have lacked rhythm in La Liga this season entirely. After injuries to Gerard Piqué, Sergio Busquets, and Sergi Roberto, Koeman will be in a fix as he has no depth in defense. Samuel Umtiti is still on the sidelines with no certain date of return and Ronald Araújo will not be back for another two weeks at least. Barça will definitely miss Jean-Claire Todibo in Centre-Back. Sergiño Dest will start almost all games on the Right-Back till Sergi Roberto returns. Koeman will have to scrutinize every aspect and start preparing for better results and put Barcelona further up in the table as opposed to being in the 10th position now.
As far as Atlético Madrid are concerned, Diego Simeone has gone home a happy man. His side has stretched their unbeaten streak to 24 games and is the biggest current unbeaten streak in Europe’s Top Five Leagues!