On Saturday, FC Barcelona defeated Atletico Madrid 2-1 at Camp Nou to make 1st place in La Liga their own. With this victory, the Blaugrana showed both their mental and physical toughness.
Although Luis Enrique’s men swept aside all before them in 2015, they have been accused multiple times of lacking strength and an ability to win dirty. Against Los Colchoneros, Barca hit back at their critics.
People will argue that Barcelona had it easy in the second half because Atletico had 10 and then 9 men. However, that doesn’t tell the whole story. Atleti started out pressing relentlessly and high up the pitch. Once Koke gave Atletico the lead after just 10 minutes, instead of caving in to the challenge, the European champions came roaring back with periods of sustained pressure. Once Lionel Messi hit a clinical finish into Jan Oblak’s goal in the 30th minute, it was clear that the Blaugrana were in control. 8 minutes later, when Luis Suarez fired Barca in front, it was clear there was only possible outcome for this match, this was clarified when Filipe Luis was sent off for a horrendous challenge on Messi in the 44th minute.
The second half started with both teams attacking, but with Barcelona clearly in the driver’s seat. Although Atletico showed some signs of life, their only real chance occurred when Claudio Bravo pulled an absolutely world-class save on his former Real Sociedad teammate Antoine Griezemann. When Diego Godin was sent off for a second yellow shown to him because of a challenge on fellow Uruguayan Luis Suarez, both teams realized that this would be a Barca win, even if Atleti did fight valiantly until the end.
Although this was not an easy win, it was necessary for Barca to show their strength and they did just that.