Barcelona 2-0 Atletico Madrid: 5 Men who won the game for Barcelona
Barcelona welcomed Atletico Madrid for a top of the table clash on Saturday that promised to be a cracker! The two teams were separated by 8 points at the top of the table. Atletico had never won in their last 12 visits to Barcelona, with 3 draws and 9 defeats showing that they had found little joy at the Camp Nou of late.
The Catalans, on the other hand, were on an 18 game unbeaten streak in La Liga. However, Atletico Madrid and Diego Simeone were an entirely different proposition. Valverde knew that complacency could kill Barcelona and he named his team accordingly for the game.
The Spaniard opted for Ter Stegen in goal, with Sergio Roberto, Pique, Lenglet and Alba making up the back four. In the midfield, Rakitic and Arthur started either side of Busquets. The front three consisted of Messi, Suarez and Coutinho.
Both teams started the game well, and threatened to score. The game had all the ingredients to be an entertaining, open ended affair, however, things fell out of place in the 28th minute. Diego Costa was shown a straight Red for dissent and Atletico were reduced to 10 men. From then on, Atletico held on and managed to go into the break with the score 0-0.
After the break, Atletico grew in confidence and regularly tried to catch Barcelona off guard. However, Suarez scored in the 85th minute and Messi doubled the lead a minute later to seal all three points.
As such, Barcelona are now 11 points clear at the top of the La Liga table and they have these 5 men to thank for a memorable win.
#5 Gerard Pique
The central defender was assured as usual in the heart of the Barcelona defence and even managed to keep his cool under intense pressure from Diego Costa in the opening stages. Even though Costa tried quite a lot of tricks from his book, Pique was strong and did not allow his countryman to make a mark on the game.
The Spanish defender was comfortable as usual with the ball at his feet. On many occasions, Pique took the ball out of the defence and ventured forward to meet his teammates. He was also quick off his line on a few occasions that the away side threatened to score. He closed down the opposition in a flash and was the leader at the back who saw Barcelona through.