Oblak makes up for Savic’s elbow
The image of the game was Oblak saving Joselu’s penalty. They say he hasn’t saved one for three years: well he produced the goods at a vital moment. With two points less after this match, Atleti would really have felt the hot breath of their pursuers. The penalty itself came from an idiotic moment from Savic, who was bringing the ball out fairly comfortably when he let fly with his elbow, catching Rioja. Poor instincts, something that happens regularly with him - he tends to become overly physical when marking his territory. Possibly Rioja exaggerated the effects, possibly without that VAR wouldn’t have taken another look, but it happened and Atleti put their win at risk.
Oblak's save, Suárez's goal
Luckily for Atleti, Oblak came up with the a superb save at the vital moment, the kind of action that shows what players are really made of. Together with Luis Suárez’s goal (what a great, great move it was for Atleti signing him) that means three point for Atletico, which maintains their lead at the top of the table. Simeone’s side are not in great shape, nothing compared to the well-oiled machine of the first third of the season, but the keeper and the striker did their jobs. Teams start with keeper and finish with the centre-forward. With those two positions well covered teams can go a long way, because the key parts of a football match go right through them.
Barcelona believe in the title
Atleti’s travails to earn a win contrast with Barcelona’s easy evening in what was a harder fixture, against Real Sociedad. Unlike Atleti, Barcelona are constantly getting better. Koeman has pressed the belief button. They all feel comfortable with a system they believe in. Messi is going great guns. Dembélé has finally woken up, the defence is starting to tighten up. 15 days before the postponed final against Athletic, Real Sociedad were put to the sword by Barça, who enjoyed a goal-fest. Atleti are still leading the table, but Barcelona still believe, and with far more reasons to do so than Real Madrid.
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