Atletico Madrid vs Barcelona: 4 takeaways from the 1-1 draw
Barcelona's clash with Atletico Madrid last night was one of the most anticipated games of the current LaLiga season. It was an opportunity for Diego Simeone to finally defeat the defending champions in LaLiga and top the table. However, things turned out differently for both the teams, as an extremely entertaining yet tight match came to an end with a 1-1 draw.
With the absence of some of the most crucial players from both ends, the two were forced to draw in a lot of players from the bench.
The draw has given us some topics of discussion, mistakes, and predictions for their upcoming matches, as they move forward to the 5th matchday of the UEFA Champions League on 27th.
#4 Defensively unstable
While La Blaugrana dominated much of the possession in the first half and some part of the second, Samuel Umtiti and Gerard Pique looked absolutely fragile throughout the game, showing lack of consistency and allowing the likes of Thomas Lemar, Diego Costa, and Antoine Greizmann to take chances between the open spaces.
Nelson Semedo replaced Sergi Roberto in the right back position, as Roberto was now deployed as a right-wing midfielder, completely dominating the right side of the flank, creating opportunities for both Arturo Vidal and Lionel Messi. However, Semedo lacked the character that he required in order to be a perfect right back in high-pressure situations, falling behind the lines unnecessarily and not pressing forward like his counterpart Jordi Alba.
These mistakes allowed Diego Costa to capitalize in the 77th minute after he scored from a header that went straight into the net, giving him his very first goal of the season.
Furthermore, Costa was left unmarked during this entire fiasco, and as a result, Atletico were able to take the lead. Barca surely have the depth in the back-four, but they still need to keep their defenses tight.
Atletico, on the other hand, did exactly what they are known for; defending efficiently. The back-four stood like a wall in front of Messi, Suarez, and Vidal, as they were not able to take their first shot for a long period of time. Both Saul Niguez and Koke dropped at the back in order to support the defense.
#3 Ousmane Dembele's first-half absence
Dembele has been crucial this season for Barcelona as he has shown a lot of improvement from the last season in terms of play-making and dribbling the ball across the opposition defense. The Frenchmen has scored 5 goals in the current LaLiga season, yet he failed to make a start against Atletico Madrid.
Instead, Arturo Vidal took his place and made the start on the left side. Vidal was seen making runs all over the attacking line, as he often switched from left to right, becoming an attacking midfielder at numerous occasions. However, apart from his passing and play-making, he didn't do much in terms of scoring, something that was expected from him.
With Ousmane Dembele coming on the pitch, things flipped for Barca almost instantaneously as he scored from the last minute strike, leveling things for both Atletico and Barcelona. Had he started in this particular fixture, things would've been more aggressive for Barcelona.
#2 Rakitic and Coutinho's absence
Two of the crucial Barca midfielders Ivan Rakitic and Philippe Coutinho were ruled out of the starting XI due to the injuries that they carried. While Coutinho faces a thigh injury, Rakitic as well has faced complications because of a hamstring injury. Their absence has had an effect on Barcelona's lineup against Atletico, as the midfield lacked the required depth.
With this lack of depth, Simeone's side was able to press higher and create complications for the likes of Sergio Busquets and the center-backs. Even though the possession was largely dominated by Barcelona, Atletico went all out when the had the ball in their rule.
#1 The Diego Simeone curse
Barcelona have been knocked out twice by Atletico in the UEFA Champions League as the Rojiblancos have been into the finals twice in the last 5 years. However, under the 7-year reign of Diego Simeone, Atletico Madrid have never been able to beat Barcelona in LaLiga by hook or by crook.
Diego Costa's 77th minuted looked as if Simeone was about to get his very first LaLiga victory over the Catalan giants, but as Ousmane Dembele equalized in the 90th minute, it was understood that Simeone will have to wait for yet another match in order to defeat La Blaugrana in this particular competition.