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Atleti clinging on by their fingertips


It’s still possible. Atlético will continue in the Champions League if they beat Chelsea in London and as long as Qarabag do them the favour of gaining a draw in Rome. Neither of those two possible outcomes are quite as easy as they sound – particularly the second one. But at least Atleti showed last night that they never give up, that they still have faith and that they are prepared to fight to the bitter end. All things considered, they’re partly to blame for the predicament they’ve found themselves in. They played badly in both of their meetings with Qarabag, squandering four points which they were presumed beforehand were in the bag. But they should have beaten Roma on MatchDay 1 – and not just by a couple of goals but by several. They drew in what was their best performance of the group stage but hey, that’s football for you.

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Positives to take from Atlético's win over Roma

There’s a big chance that Atlético are destined to end up playing in the Europa League –which might be seen as the worst outcome, all things considered but it would restore hope. And while that hasn’t happened just yet, Simeone’s team have finally started to get their self-confidence back. They enjoyed some good spells in last night’s game – Augusto appeared at last, Thomas is gaining more status within the side with every game he plays, Torres confirmed that he’s still got the magic, Griezmann scored a beautiful goal and set another one up for Gameiro who, this time did finish off one of the team’s moves, finishing from a tight angle. At last Atleti crowned a convincing win in Europe.

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Barcelona gain the draw they needed in Turin

Elsewhere, Barça made sure they’ll be in the next round with a discreet draw in Turin. Messi who, according to Luis Suárez (the original one, the Ballon d’Or winner) appears to have some undisclosed physical issues – as he told Carrusel; the Argentinean only played the second half. Just like Real Madrid, Barça haven’t really excelled in the group stage but a draw was enough for them to finish top of their group. It would be fair to point out that they experienced a couple of hair-raising moments - snatching the result thanks to the heroics of Ter Stegen who turned around a Dybala strike in the dying minutes. If that had entered, Barça would be feeling a little more nervous today. But the keeper’s intervention made sure that didn't happen and it puts them in a good position for next month’s draw. The sensations the team have been giving is recent weeks is another thing entirely, but then who am I to criticize?