Old-timers take Barcelona back to 1st spot with Atlético victory

Barcelona’s old favourites returned to the first-team in the Atlético win

The top-of-the-table clash with Atlético Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano has been one of the most important games of the season so far. Barcelona just about managed to sneak past the Colcheneros, but couldn’t have done it without certain players.

Ernesto Valverde made the decision to bring Ivan Rakitić and Sergi Roberto back to the first-team against Borussia Dortmund. It paid dividends, as both players produced decent displays to contribute to a crucial 3-1 win.

Rakitić and Roberto had been very important members of last season’s first-team, but their fortunes have changed for the worse this season. Frenkie de Jong and Nélson Semedo’s early form have kept them out of most starting lineups.

But against Atlético, Roberto and Rakitić really found their rhythm after being given important duties by Valverde. While Rakitić was tasked with playing in the Busquets role, Roberto had to deal with João Félix down the left flank.

They both carried out their duties very well. Rakitić had 92% passing accuracy, and tried to string together passes with midfield partners De Jong and Arthur. Roberto linked up with Leo Messi, and made frequent overlapping runs in behind the Atlético defence.

Roberto and Rakitić were both sound defensively, and were good up front. With their performance against Atlético, the old favourites could be set for a return to first-team action. It means bad news for Semedo, and even De Jong, but it did work against a big side.

Next: MSG starts to click against Atlético

Going into the Clásico, Barça need a good blend of experience and youth. Rakitić and Roberto can provide that experience by building up a good run of form. With Jordi Alba also set to return from injury, Barça stand a good chance of a victory in the big game.