League leaders Barcelona extend their lead at the top of the table to eleven points after defeating Atletico Madrid, in Camp Nou, with Spaniard Ferran Torres’s strike just before half-time whistle making the difference between the sides.
Back with familiar faces
Barcelona had fielded some familiar faces as Frenkie de Jong and Pedri returned from injury to feature in this crunch game against 3rd ranked Atletico. After two successive stalemates against Girona and Getafe, it was important for Xavi’s men to stamp their authority on a dream season, as they aimed to cement their position on top, 11 points ahead of arch rivals Real Madrid. It was a battle of the masterminds as Xavi and Simeone wanted to field there best playing eleven. For Barca, Frenkie grabbed the headlines after making into the starting line-up, as Camp Nou greeted him with applause.
The back four comprised the formidable Kounde, Araujo who indeed proved his mettle by successful interceptions and clearances in front of some dangerous runs by Griezmann and Morata. Barca was without the services of Christensen, so it was Alonso who filled the void along with prodigy Balde, who has made his impression in the first tea due to his superb outings with his speed. Midfield boasted of the veteran Busquets, paired with prodigal Gavi and Frenkie, with the front three of Lewandowski, Raphinha and Ferran spearheading the attacking front.
While for “Rojiblancos”, Simeone started with a five throng defense with Molina and Carrasco being wingbacks, with midfield boasting of De Paul, Witsel and Lemar. Griezmann and Correa completed the line-up.
Ferran Torres to the rescue
Ferran Torres has got a lot of opportunities to prove his worth in the starting line-up and to gain the confidence of Xavi. As frontman and main winger Dembele is missing from the fray due to injuries, he has got the game-time, but he still could not probe his mettle, as he kept on missing chances and Barca could not register important victories because of the misses which proved costly. But, today, he could do no wrong as he smashed his shot into the far left of Oblak, with a mind-blowing assist from Raphinha, and achieved the lead just before half-time.
Dominant from starting
Barcelona was attacking from the whistle and was adhering strictly to their trademark possession-based gameplay, as they achieved 62 percent possession as Pedri, Gavi and other players were glued to the ball, and the opponent players barely managed to snatch the ball from them. Although whilst comparing shots, both have targeted the goal 13 times, but it was the “Blaugranes” who managed to come back to winning ways after two consecutive stalemates.
Ter Stegen- the great wall of Barcelona
Marc Andre ter Stegen has been outrageous this season in the League, as he continues his impressive run of form, to take a step further for achieving the accolade for highest number of clean sheets in a season, already equaling former Barca great Claudio Bravo’s record, at 23 clean sheets.
But, what could be worrisome for Xavi and Barcelona is Lewandowski’s poor string of form as he seems to continue his struggle with goals as he missed a vital chance to double the lead. Barcelona would like to discuss with him about his form as for a player of his caliber, missing chances could cost them in the future.
With this comfortable win over Atleti, Barca consolidate their position on top of the table, and could soon touch the throne as they sit 11 points clear of second placed Real Madrid, with few games left to play.