Following a nerve-racking 90 minutes in the night of Madrid, Barcelona march away from Wanda Metropolitano with a hard-fought 3 points in the pocket. After the guests opened the scoring early in the game, Atlético turned up the volume, though, their efforts weren’t crowned with success, and with these important points, Barcelona managed to extend their lead at top of the table.
The game started off as one could expect: Barcelona took the initiative and showed great effort in the attacking direction, while Atlético tried to capitalize on the limited amount of chances they got through fast breaks after stealing the ball. While the hosts’ play did comprise a threat in itself, the Blaugrana defence handled it excellently, moreover, on the other hand, they managed to take the lead through Ousmane Dembélé in the 22′ minute.
But, what came after was quite an unusual reaction knowing the habit of the two teams. While Barcelona seemed to be satisfied with the result, Simeone’s men began to take control into their hands and create plenty of chances to score. In fact, it was one of the rare occasions that the Catalans have been (significantly) outplayed in terms of expected goals (1.7 – 0.7), and probably the most reactive game of the Catalans as well.
The above-presented picture of the match didn’t offer much to be proud of, but what also shouldn’t be taken away from the Blaugrana is the impeccable defensive performance led by the mighty triangle of Araujo, Koundé and Christensen in the heart of the defence. While as a collective, the team had its flaws which enabled Atléti to cause hot moments, but on the individual level, these three put on a majestic performance to protect the lead.
Jules Koundé, aside from a great defensive showing, showed us again his potential when filling the right-back role. Ronald Araujo, who stole the show with another goal-line clearance, after his recovery, continues to boss the defence and form a genuine wall between the opposition and our goal. Meanwhile, the man of the match for me was Andreas Christensen, who, with his clearances, interceptions and duels won beside his excellent on-the-ball contribution, was the silent hero of the Blaugrana.
With this victory, Barcelona takes a step ahead and, capitalizing on Real Madrid’s slip against Villarreal, extends their lead to three points at the top of the table, coming clear from the insecurity of goal difference in case of an equal amount of points. As the Royal Whites levelled the points after the Garnet and Blue shared points with Espanyol in a heated Catalans derby, Villarreal’s 2-1 triumph came at the perfect moment for us to restore our lead at the top of the table.
Overall, a game from which we can – and we should – learn in order to improve for the future, especially not letting the control out of hand, and avoiding unnecessary complications that may cost a lot in important situations. All in all, an encouraging victory heading into the Super Cup may lift our spirits while setting our sights on a close trophy. Visca Barça!