Barcelona 2-0 Atletico Madrid: 5 Hits and Flops
- Barcelona extended their La Liga lead to 11 points with a 2-0 win over Atletico Madrid, but which players struggled while others excelled?
A quick-fire double late on courtesy of Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi broke Atletico Madrid hearts, extending Barcelona's La Liga lead to 11 points in dramatic style - essentially sealing the title against their closest rivals by doing so.
Diego Costa's sending off just before the half-hour mark sparked an already feisty affair, in a must-win fixture for Atletico Madrid: if they wanted to keep their faint title hopes intact. His crazy moment saw him sent off after an extreme case of dissent towards referee Jesus Gil Manzano, having reacted angrily to a no-foul call when he felt he'd been upended near the centre circle.
With a numerical disadvantage and increasing pressure on their goal, Atletico needed Jan Oblak at his best. The Slovenian international duly delivered another excellent goalkeeping showing, denying Philippe Coutinho, Messi, Suarez and second-half substitute Malcom as the wave of Barca attacks continued.
Eventually though, the hosts' pressure told. Suarez finally unleashed a curling low effort into the bottom corner after 85 minutes - leaving Oblak with no chance as it cannoned in off the far post. Messi delivered the killer blow less than a minute after the restart, with a subtle finish from close-range after Ivan Rakitic's probing pass set him through on-goal. Without further ado, here's a look at five hits and flops from a key Barcelona win on this occasion:
#5 Flop: Rodrigo Hernandez
It's never an easy challenge against the league's best, but considering Rodri's development over the past 12 months, he endured a disappointing performance on this occasion.
As part of a midfield quartet, he found himself outshone by central midfield partner Thomas Partey - as well as Koke, who operated down the right-hand side. His passing (90.2%) and overall distribution was safe but unspectacular, while he failed to truly stamp his authority on the game.
Barcelona started purposefully in search of an early opener, as Rakitic and Arthur were confident and comfortable with possession. Rodri couldn't get near them enough and when he did, he committed more fouls (3) than completed tackles (2). One interception and blocked shot aside, he wasn't involved in many of Atletico's attacks so should've done more to help Partey in transition. Not good enough.