Twenty minutes from Iniesta and a Messi strike

Twenty excellent minutes from Iniesta and a sublime free-kick from Lionel Messi sending the ball into the top corner. These were the main stand-out points from a game that promised so much on paper but was something of a let-down. One could accuse Atlético of not seizing their opportunity, they are the side chasing the table toppers but failed to offer enough threat on the day. Simeone's men were happy to sit deep until Barcelona scored and only then began to play with more attacking zest, The Argentine coach gradually changed things around, substituting defensive players for attackers but none of the changes delivered any considerable impact on proceedings.

Barcelona’s Lionel Messi scores their first goal from a free kick


I was surprised to see Atlético set out their game plan in such a defensive manner. Taking the game to Barça does have its risks and at any stage of the ninety minutes they can punish any team through a Luis Suárez strike or a flash of genius from Messi. Playing the waiting game, as they did ensured that Atlético failed to utilise one of their key strengths, that of their great physical condition. They failed to hustle a Barça side that were clearly tired after playing last Thursday night. Post game Sergio Busquets was vocal in his concern with the scheduling which saw the Catalan side only returning from Las Palmas, in the early hours of Friday morning.



It's fair to say that Atlético did push-on in the second half and offered more of a contest but their attacks were easily snuffed out by the Barça rear-guard and Ter Stegen was never property tested throughout the ninety minutes of action. Neither Griezmann or Diego Costa or the substitutes could find the key to unpick the solid Barcelona defensive wall with Piqué and Umtiti marshalling the line in a convincing manner. There are still eleven weeks to go in the current campaign but its fair to say Barça have one hand on the title. Messi makes such a difference, a fact that was acknowledged by Simeone in the post match press conference but as El Cholo also pointed out they work well as a team and are able to ride out moments of pressure during games.