Barcelona registered a hard-fought 1-0 win over Atlético at the Metropolitano
On a rainy evening at the Wanda Metropolitano, Junior Firpo’s horrible performance and shambolic refereeing by Mateu Lahoz may have overshadowed ‘senyera’-wielding Barcelona’s 1-0 victory against Atlético, but could not overshadow the emergence of the MSG dynamic.
Antoine Griezmann was booed throughout the highly competitive match-up, but the former Atlético star bore with a wry smile. The Frenchman was enjoying himself, and looked more confident than ever before.
He was more involved in the game, and was played centrally by Ernesto Valverde. Griezmann took shots more often, and even hit the target once. The 28-year old World Cup winner tried to connect with Firpo on the left flank, but was disappointed by the Spanish left-back.
Antoine Griezmann also managed to develop an understanding with Lionel Messi over the course of the game, with the Argentine maestro trying to find his new teammate in space. Overall, it was a good game for the France international.
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Luis Suárez also had a very successful night, assisting Messi’s late winner. He made a total of 3 key passes, and got into many dangerous positions. The 32-year old Uruguayan centre-forward may have missed a few good chances, but his movement and passing were superb.
Suárez managed to keep his special Messi connect alive, and rebuilt some old understandings, including with Sergi Roberto and Ivan Rakitić. Despite getting just 39 touches all game, ‘El Pistolero’ was able to have a big impact on the match.
Messi was shaky at first, and struggled to find his footing initially due to being confined to the right flank by Valverde. He gave the ball away cheaply, and misjudged runs made by his teammates. That was very uncharacteristic, but he soon grew out of it.
Diego Simeone’s strategy to use Koke to man-mark Messi was successful throughout the game, but the Argentina international still managed to find space. He tried to look for Griezmann and Suárez, and showed a great understanding with Sergi Roberto.
Messi had few opportunities to find the back of the net himself, but eventually scored the winner. After Roberto passed it inside to him, he exchanged a beautiful one-two with Suárez before providing a vintage Messi finish past Jan Oblak.
The MSG trident were at a similar level against the Colcheneros. It was not the best that they could do, but it is building on the momentum created by the 3-1 home win against Borussia Dortmund in the penultimate game of the Champions League group-stage.
With the Atlético win, Barça are on a 5-match winning run. Hopefully, Valverde’s men can continue this run of form going into the Clásico. By then, the MSG dynamic should be more polished so as to tackle one of the best defences in the world.