ATM XI: Oblak; Juanfran, Savić, Godín, Filipe; Saúl, Gabi, Koke, Carrasco; Griezmann, Correa.
Subs: Gaitan for Correa 59’; Thomas for Carrasco 72’; Torres for Gabi 83’.
FCB XI: Ter Stegen; Semedo, Umtiti, Piqué, Alba; Busquets, Rakitić, Iniesta, Gomes; Suárez, Messi.
The first huge domestic match at the Wanda Metropolitano was certainly not lacking in atmosphere, as the cavernous new stadium’s noise level was high throughout. Diego Simeone and Atlético Madrid had been frustrated in their drab draw with Leganés before the international break, and the boss made a few key changes, starting with Juanfran replacing José Giménez. Filipe Luís and Yannick Carrasco also came in for Thomas Partey and Luciano Vietto.
It seemed that Atlético were content to see out the first few minutes of the match without providing any major opportunities for Barcelona. However, Barça chose to attack and press with a ferocious pace, evident when Lionel Messi nearly opened the scoring just 30 seconds in. Atleti found space behind the Barcelona attackers, so it became an advantage for them to get forward as well — and to their credit, they did. Ángel Correa had a wonderful opportunity, and could have gotten a good shot off if it hadn’t been for a great Samuel Umtiti tackle. Just minutes later, Antoine Griezmann also had a great chance when he nutmegged Gerard Piqué, leaving him for dead and almost scoring, but Marc-André ter Stegen got in the way.
On 20 minutes, Atleti put together a fantastic team move that Barça would have been proud of, which ended with Saúl Ñíguez receiving the ball on the edge of the box and finding the back of the net with his lesser-known right foot. A goal at this stage of the game was crucial for Atleti, who now had some ground to stand on and a lead to defend.
In the first half, Barcelona had just one shot on goal, despite having the vast majority of possession (around 70 percent). Atlético had just three shots, but all were on target, and in the past this has been indicative of Atleti success against Barcelona. Simeone seems to play these games by not entirely sitting back, but creating a few high quality chances and hoping one gets finished off, while relinquishing most of the possession.
The second half continued in much the same way, with Barcelona creating more chances as Jan Oblak was needed to stop Luis Suárez on 55’. Just a few moments later, Lionel Messi hit the post from a free kick. Nico Gaitán also came on for Correa — who had a solid but unspectacular match — and Thomas was brought on for Carrasco on 71’ presumably to shore up the defense. Barcelona continued to push for the equalizer, with Atleti’s defense looking shaky at times (particularly Juanfran).
Suárez again threatened Oblak’s goal on 80’ when he stretched, but could not beat the Slovene. The Uruguayan did find that equalizer just a minute later, when he headed home a ball from Sergi Roberto to make it 1-1. Fernando Torres then entered for Gabi, a change that had been delayed for a few minutes. The final minutes were chippy, with play often being stopped for fouls or throw-ins. In the 92nd minute, Griezmann gave away a very dangerous free kick on the edge of the box, but Messi’s effort was straight at Oblak.
Overall, this was a good contest. The first half was more positive for Atlético, who erased Barça’s 100 percent winning record. To get a point from this match is good for the team’s confidence, but three would have been massive — los rojiblancos now have as many wins as draws in LaLiga.
Was the draw deserved? Is it a good point for Atlético? Let us know what you think!