Atletico Madrid mauled by Barcelona in the clash of the La Liga front two
Atletico, on the penultimate match before the winter break, had a golden opportunity to close the gap on the league leaders to just 3 points, but it was not to be a simple task; and as it turns out, Falcao and his team failed miserably at dominating the game and producing a result in their favor. It was a 4-1 win for the Blaugrana, and the emphatic scoreline was totally justified given the balance of play. Atletico started the game in a great shape and provided constant threats going forward for the first 30 minutes, 30 minutes which ended in an excellent Falcao goal. However, he surely must rue the two missed opportunities to turn the scoreline into a daunting one to alter, a header which hit the post and the effort put a few inches wide after going clear.
From there on out, it was pretty much all Barcelona. The power-packed midfield of Barcelona were too much to handle for the likes of Turan, Gabi and the uninspiring Costa. They showed their superiority over their rivals by maintaining 75% possession and limiting them to only one shot on target, the Falcao goal. An excellent attacking and defensive showing from Adriano quenched the concerns of many people about the right-back position. If that wasn’t enough, he grabbed an excellent equalizer from outside the box, providing Iniesta with an assist which he surely never expected getting off that pass. Sergio Busquets rounded off his excellent showing with a cool-headed finish after a scrappy attempt by Atletico at clearing the ball from a corner.
Coming on to the man forever in spotlight, Messi wasn’t really able to create any sort of concrete impact on the game until the 55th minute. He also gave away the ball from which the lone Atletico goal was scored. But a player of that class simply doesn’t have an off-day as he ended his day with the 6th consecutive brace in a league match he has started, extending his year goal tally to 90! His two goals were reflective of his brilliance and the lack of it in the opposing defenders. While the Atletico defence wasn’t out of place many times, they surely had a hard time dealing with the brilliance and form of many Barcelona players. Players like Godin looked out of place on numerous instances and it would be interesting to see if this defeat changes their excellent showing this year.
Shots: Barcelona 8; Atletico Madrid 5
On target: Barcelona 6; Atletico Madrid 1
Possession: Barcelona 75%; Atletico Madrid 25%
Corners: Barcelona 9, Atletico Madrid 5
Fouls: Barcelona 15; Atletico Madrid 5
1) David Villa finally got a chance to prove his worth to the team by coming on the place of Messi to save Barcelona from an insulting defeat. Wait, I wrote that wrong. He got a meagre 10 minutes at the end of an already done and dusted match. I for one would surely be flabbergasted if Spain’s best striker doesn’t have a problem playing second fiddle to any 11 players.
2) While a lot of talk about getting a central defender from outside was going on past summer, it is getting pretty clear that Vilanova stands very firm on their policy of promoting youth players, and I see no reason why not, given the quality their youth system has produced in every spot.
3) Real Madrid had a chance to get within the spotlights of the top two but had to satisfy with just a point at Bernabeu against Espanyol, and now sit a startling 13 points behind the league-leaders.
4) With Chelsea losing out to Corinthians in the Club World Championship, it seems like the English teams have a knack of handing over the crown out of Europe, given the fact that the last time this crown went out of Europe was in 2006, Liverpool’s year.
5) Schalke, after their differing performances in League and Champions League, have relieved their head coach Huub Stevens of his duties, replacing him with former youth coach Jens Keller.