Arguably the biggest win for Barcelona in terms of morale came against Atletico Madrid. Xavi’s men have overcome Diego Simeone’s Atletico based on sheer technical superiority and through great passage of play overall.
A 1-0 victory does not do justice to the performance, but it grants Barça three very crucial points. However, despite scoring early and commanding the game for much of the duration, Atletico Madrid also had their fair share of chances sprinkled across the game.
Despite two very close calls, Barcelona ultimately managed to come out unscathed. The credit for this, as highlighted by Mundo Deportivo, largely goes to Spanish goalkeeper Inaki Pena. Once again taking over the responsibilities of the injured Marc Andre Ter Stegen, Pena did not disappoint.
Just as he stood his ground against FC Porto, Pena put on an even more impressive performance against Atletico. The 24-year-old was initially unbothered by the visiting opponents, but the closure of the game demanded his utmost attention.
Two saves, in particular, made Pena a hero for Barcelona. The first came around the 80th-minute mark, when Pena had to make a heroic leap to keep Memphis Depay’s freekick from going into the back of the Barcelona goal.
Almost an inch-perfect save, the entire team’s mood, and morale was uplifted because of it. However, that was only the first of two incredibly decisive saves.
The second of the two saves came near the end of additional time before the full-time whistle. Pena held his ground against Angel Correa, whose powerful strike from close was parried away by the Barcelona academy keeper.
Courtesy of his heroics, Joao Felix’s singular goal was enough to get Barcelona all three points. Even without Marc Andre Ter Stegen, Pena has already proven himself to be a great replacement for the German while also establishing himself as a solid goalkeeper in his own right.