Atlético de Madrid are unable to stop a spectacular Messi and fall (3-0)

Turienzo Álvarez calls back a Tiago goal

Atlético de Madrid were unable to play the bête noir to Guardiola and lost in their visit to Camp Nou by a score of 3-0. Messi, in a state of grace, was the author of all of the goals, and he himself was enough to defeat the ‘rojiblanco’ side. Atlético started of the match inconsistently, but improved in the second half and had several chances to get on the board. After this loss, the ‘colchoneros’ will begin a series of fixtures against their direct rivals in La Liga. Next week Valencia comes to the Vicente Calderón.

Going into the clash, it seemed like things were going to be a bit unequal. Quique Sánchez Flores’ squad had been in a bit of a rut, but was trying to be the antidote to Barcelona once again. The ‘rojiblancos’ had beaten the Catalan club away in the 2004-2005 and 2005-2006 seasons, respectively. When Rijkaard led them to two titles, Barcelona only showed weakness at Camp Nou when Atlético were the visitors. The legend of Fernando Torres as the ‘bête noir’ of Barcelona mainly came from those two games, as he scored two goals in each one of them. His pace disarmed the high back line of Barça, who couldn’t find a way to stop the ‘rojiblancos’.

But since the arrival of Guardiola to the ‘azulgrana’ bench, Atlético’s two visits to the Nou Camp had ended with two crushing defeats. But the ‘rojiblanco’ manager, Quique Sánchez Flores, had a plan to take down Barcelona. Conscious of their power in the central midfield, he wanted to cancel out their play there with the presence of five players: Assunçao, Tiago, Reyes, Fran Mérida and Filipe Luis. Furthermore, Quique Sánchez Flore’s squad had been the only one capable of beating Guardiola’s lads in the last two leagues, although they had done so at the Vicente Calderón.

The encounter began with a good pace and two teams that had come out to win. Atlético kept their opponent corralled in the midfield. With the defence pushed up higher than normal and strong pressure in the midfield, they tried to make Barcelona feel uncomfortable. Even though the home team was able to control the ball in that area, they were unable to approach De Gea’s area.

Atlético’s problema was that they couldn’t keep the ball in their control for very long, but the match hadn’t begun poorly for them. But that all changed in the 16th minute when Messi received a pass a few metres outside the area on the right. He cut back into the middle and dribbled past every defender who stepped up and ripped a low left-footed shot past De Gea from outside the area.

Down 1-0 on the scoresheet, everyone waited to see how Quique Sánchez Flores’ men would react. And the truth is that the reaction wasn’t a good one. Up until that goal, the ‘rojiblancos’ had controlled their defensive movements correctly, but from that point on they fell back into old habits of making the same mistakes they had been making all season long.

Barcelona continued to control things in the midfield. The minutes passed and nothing changed until minute 27 when Villa received a long ball inside the visitors’ area and left the ball for Messi. Antonio López was unable to clear and Messi pounced on the ball to beat De Gea to his near post with a subtle touch.

That goal woke up Quique Sánchez Flores’ lads, who little-by-little began to believe in their chances. They slowly began to regain ground in the centre of the pitch, although without really being able to connect with Agüero. But Kun always leaves details of his quality and class. In the 44th minute he carried the ball into Barça’s area, beating several defenders, but one of them got a foot on the ball right when he seemed about to beat Valdés. It was the best opportunity for the visitors up to that point.

On the next attack, Kun Agüero again got loose down the left flank. Diego Alves saw no other way to stop him than taking him down with a hard challenge, earning himself a yellow card. The ensuing free kick was taken quickly by Tiago, who sent the ball into an unguarded net from a tight angle. The ‘rojiblancos’ celebrated the goal, as they hadn’t asked for a wall and were alert to take the kick quickly, but Turienzo called it back alleging that he hadn’t authorized the free kick to be taken.

After the break, Quique Sánchez Flores wanted to give a new outlook to the match. With a deficit on the scoreboard he needed to strengthen the attack and sent on Forlán. But Barcelona continued to own the middle of the pitch. They enjoyed complete control of the ball, although the clearest chance in the early minutes of the second half went to Quique’s men. In the 52nd minute and, after a nice team build-up, the ball went to Kun Agüero on the right wing. The Argentine saw Forlán’s run at the back post and drilled in a cross. The Uruguayan mishit his volley, but the ball fell to Filipe Luis all alone in the middle. The Brazilian controlled, turned and ripped a left-footed shot, but Piqué was in the right place at the right time and headed off the line.

Atlético were getting back into it. While they didn’t possess the ball much, they attacked Valdes’ area more than they did in the first half. They looked dangerous and it seemed like a goal might come on any one of their counter-attacks. But Messi showed up once again to prevent any possible last-minute complication. He latched onto a Villa through ball in the 78th minute to tally his third of the night. The ‘rojiblancos’ tried hard until the final whistle, but were unlucky as they were unable to snatch the goal that they were looking for until the last play of the match.


Barcelona: Valdés;  Diego Alves, Piqué, Abidal, Maxwell; Xavi (Afellay, 83’), Busquets, Iniesta (Keita, 79’); Pedro (Boja, 83’), Messi and Villa.

Atlético de Madrid: De Gea; Valera, Ujfalusi, Godín, Antonio López, Paulo Assunçao (Koke, 57’), Tiago; Reyes, Fran Mérida (Forlán, 46’), Filipe Luis (Elías, 75’); Agüero.

Turienzo Álvarez. For Barça booked Diego Alves (44’) and Messi (67’); for Atlético de Madrid booked Tiago (66’) and Valera (88’).

Incidents: Camp Nou. Matchday 22 of La Liga. Near sell-out, with 200 Atlético fans. Atlético de Madrid were represented in the President’s Box by Mr. Lázaro Albarracín, Vice-President of the Social Department, Mr.Clemente Villaverde, Executive, and Mr.Miguel Pérez, Shareholder.

1-0 (16)’. Messi beats De Gea from outside the area.
2-0 (27’). Messi takes the ball from Antonio López and scores from inside the six-yard box.
3-0 (78’). Messi jumps on a loose ball inside the are to grab his hat-trick.