The Blaugranas visited Wanda Metropolitano to claim a victory but the Rojiblancos got the 3 points with cheap mistakes from both Pique and Ter Stegen costing the team. Our editors have penned down their thoughts of the match.
One word “Disappointed”
In the opening games with Koeman as Barcelona’s manager, it looked as if Barcelona might revive, Koeman might bring the lost spark of this team back; they might start doing something without Messi. But with tough fixtures, the flaws of Koeman’s system is getting more and more evident. Koeman started with as expected lineup with 4-2-3-1 with Griezmann, Pedri, Messi and Dembele up front, De jong and Pjanic in the double pivot and the usual defensive line with Pique, Lenglet, Alba and Roberto.
The game was pretty much open, both sides were imposing threads, but not much. Atletico Madrid was much better defensively and Barcelona’s defence was constantly exposed giving Atletico brilliant opportunities to open the score.
Atletico managed to take a lead after the poor decision of Stegen and Pique. That was a gifted goal. Barcelona was looking vulnerable throughout the game, and couldn’t capitalize or create many clear chances. Pique and Roberto got injured in the game that means, Barcelona will face Dynamo Kyiv in the upcoming Champions League game with just 1 CB available.
The defensive vulnerability of Barcelona is what prevents Barcelona from doing better than how they are now. They are often good from attacking perspective, but they aren’t strong defensively. Koeman seems to lack many ideas. It was a game where Puig could get some mins. But, the way, Puig is ghosted from the team is suspicious, to be honest. Pedri played in an unusual position which might be the reason he couldn’t do much.
Messi. Although he was closed down constantly, he managed to cross in and create chances which should have been finished better by Lenglet.
A tough night at Wanda Metropolitano
With Koeman’s side walking into the match having only obtained 11 points in 8 matches, they desperately needed to win the tough fixture that Atletico presents every season. Although they started in the initial minutes with good rhythm, mostly building up from the Sergi Roberto – Dembele right flank, they had a clear idea to stretch the field to create space against the low block that was expected of Atletico.
Sergi Roberto functioning as an inverted RB and Dembele sticking to the touchline they exchanged the ball well between the flank and the right half-space to create opportunities. It all looked well for Barca in the first few minutes but Atletico stood their ground and showed that they’re here to contend for anything that’s put in their way. The game gradually slipped through Barca’s hand, with Atletico gaining momentum and restricting any space-time for Barca’s creators.
A lot could be said about Barca’s lack of agility in transition, as good positions for diagonal balls and switch plays were ignored as usual. An error from Barca’s high line leads to a counter, in which we saw Ter Stegen attempt a desperate tackle around the halfway line, leaving the goal exposed. He seems to be getting a lot of criticism from fans, but the whole event was a gamble. Ter Stegen was already off his line and would’ve risked being lobbed if he had attempted to stay back. Pique’s injury seems to be worrying, and if long term it seems to raise questions among fans of whether this would be the end of his career.
Frenkie De Jong for me. He was very erroneous in the initial minutes of the match but proved to be a solid force in the second half. He made crucial tackles and screened the defence well, after Pique’s injury.
Syed Abuzar Suhail:
Senseless and Frustrating, to say the least
Atletico Madrid beat Barcelona in the league after 10 long years after one of the most ridiculous and fatuous displays you will ever see from Barcelona. In one of the best versions that Simeone has of Atletico, they dominated the game and were way far efficient with the ball than Barcelona. Barcelona started on the right note as they dominated possession, and Dembele was looking dangerous. Atletico grew in the game, and they never looked back. The very evident problem with this team is complete dependence on individual quality rather than a collective one.
One day it’s Messi, the other day it’s Fati, and the cycle goes on to the fact that this team just field players to fill in the position rather than picking the right player for the right area. Cohesion between players and Barcelona are 2 distant realities that are hurting this team the most. But who to blame? There is no one reason for all this. Years of bad planning have led to this, but this team still has quality players capable of winning. But the question is, how?
It all starts with the coach. Griezmann is not a No 9, and he will fail there. But, still, he will start there because we don’t have one. It was evident Pedri was not working on the left, and Trincao would have been a far better option there, but Koeman doesn’t think so. Individually, Dembele was doing good, but without a proper right back and a well-working midfield, his 1v1 were easily fizzed out. Adding to all this, when will Alena and Puig get minutes when it is very evident nothing was working?
The last nail in the coffin was the injuries of Roberto and Pique, which leaves Barcelona with just 1 CB in Lenglet for the next match. This team needs players who understand their teammates and their play rather than just relying on individual quality.
A defeat doesn’t hurt that much after what we have faced for the last few years. What hurts more is the effort and will to win from Barcelona is near to zero. When a 1-0 lead looks like a 4 or 5-0, you know, something is way too wrong.
Dembele, in my opinion. He was the only player who looked dangerous, could create an early chance and was an active participant throughout the match.
Knight of record but for Atletico:
Barcelona went into this match with motivation and aiming to keep their unbeaten record against Simeone in the league. Koeman went with his typical 4-2-3-1 with Pjanic and Pedri replacing Busquets and Coutinho in their respective positions. Cholo picked his strong eleven without the Uruguayan duo Luis Suarez and Lucas Torriera both out due to positive Covid results.
Barcelona dominated the possession with Atletico defending in 5-3-2 shape. The aim of Atletico was to prevent any central overload and restrict Barcelona in wide areas. Dembele is a natural winger and Hermoso being the target, most of the Barcelona attacks were carried out via their right side. The penetration into the box was practically impossible since Barcelona lacked a no 9 who can pin the Atletico, a usual story for us.
Atletico found themselves lucky when a collective error from Pique and mostly Ter Stegen was capitalized by Atletico in a very unusual way. The momentum of the game was never towards Barcelona since Atletico had the box sealed. The positive was Pjanic’s passing which was in some sense helping Barcelona to provide sudden pressure on Atletico centre-backs.
The negatives are in plenty with Pique possibly sidelined for the majority of the season from the initial looks and Roberto pulling possibly his hamstring.
Though the team as a whole failed miserably Lenglet can be termed as a man of the match. He made some excellent tackles to deny Atletico their second and possible nail in.
Atlético hold the fort against Barcelona
Getting back to La Liga after the international break, Koeman’s Barcelona travelled to Madrid to face Simeone’s mighty Athletico at the Wanda Metropolitano.
Playing against Barcelona in La Liga has been a task for Simeone’s Athletico, as he had not registered a win yet and Messi and co. looked to extend this run heading into the game.
Coming back with positive results from the international break, the Barça squad would have had their confidence level on a high. Suárez, who left Barça in the summer was denied a reunion with his teammates as he tested positive for COVID-19.
A game filled with pace, high tension and muscle power only to be controlled by the referee seemed to be a nut-cruncher as both teams were in search of that first goal.
Barça created chances but came nowhere close to shaking the Atlético defence. On the other hand, Atlético seemed the better team to get an opener as they forced saves for Ter Stegen and rattled Barça’s crossbar in the first half.
An unusual error from Ter Stegen just before the halftime where he tried to be sweeper-keeper 40 yards from goal proved costly, as Carrasco displayed his class nutmegging the German and had himself an open goal to slot the ball in giving the home side the lead heading into the break.
Seeking an equaliser Barça went all-out attack in the second half but Atlético continued their 5 man defence which stayed strong throughout the game. Pique twisted his knee which forced Koeman into substituting the CB with Dest and also got in Coutinho, Trincao and Braithwaite seeking for that important equaliser.
Dembele had pace but lacked muscle, Barca had the ball in midfield but lacked conversion, Messi didn’t seem to create much magic and Greizmann couldn’t be the number 9 Barça so desperately are longing for.
Lenglet came closest to getting an equaliser but his 2 headers were straight into the hands of Oblak.
A another game which ended in disappointment as Barça not only lost and slipped down further in the league table but also could be missing their CB, Pique for the rest of the season. Lots of worries taken from the game and Koeman will have to get his tactics and game plan right at the earliest if he wants to turn around Barcelona’s season and keep Messi from leaving.
Lenglet. Most consistent defender in the game for Barça and could have got the equaliser or even the winner with his 2 headers.