Intractable, FC Barcelona outclassed Atlético de Madrid (4-2) this Sunday in the shock of the 23e league day. A success that enhances the good work of Xavi for several weeks, the latter can count on his veterans Jordi Alba and Dani Alves, but also his rookie Adama Traoré to send Atlético back in its deepest doubts.
FC Barcelona 4-2 Atletico Madrid
Buts : Alba (10e), Gavi (21e), Araújo (43e) and Alves (49e) for the Blaugrana // Carrasco (8e) and Suarez (58e) for the Colchoneros
Expulsion : Alves (69e) for Barca
Four months ago, Ronald Koeman’s Barcelona put up a pitiful performance at the Wanda Metropolitano, one of the worst of their season, and there was serious concern over their ability to dig even deeper. But since then the Blaugrana have come a long way. A new coach, Xavi Hernández, ambitious whether on or off the pitch, an active winter transfer window (arrivals of Ferran Torres, Adama Traoré, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang) while having taken care to bring back a former home (Dani Alves) to bring order and balance to the locker room. Results ? Barça is better and has washed away the affront of the first leg against the mattresses by spanking the men of Diego Simeone (4-2), this Sunday afternoon at Camp Nou.
Alba Kadabra and Barça flew away
However, the Barça ship was still rocking dangerously in recent weeks, between the chaotic management of the Ousmane Dembélé case and an early elimination in the King’s Cup. And if Atlético does not show a more reassuring face, the two teams being separated by a single point to the advantage of the visitors at kick-off, it is the people of Madrid who light the first fuse thanks to a perfectly crossed strike from Yannick Carrasco, at the conclusion of a licked collective movement (0-1, 8e). But the Belgian barely has time to celebrate that Barça has already come up to par thanks to two of its veterans: Dani Alves for the center, Jordi Alba for a bright volley from the left which cleans the left corner of Jan Oblak (1-1, 10e), the beginnings of the storm that will fall on the Slovenian goalkeeper. Ten minutes later, it was the turn of Adama Traoré, excellent for his first in his new colors, to drive the opponents crazy before sending a millimeter ball on the head of the toddler Gavi (2-1, 21e). Touched, Atlético will even sink before returning to the locker room. On a free kick fired by the stainless Alves, Piqué slams a header which comes crashing into Oblak’s bar, and if Torres misses his recovery, Ronald Araújo does not miss the opportunity to drive the point home close (3-1, 43e).
Alves, the dark task
And the fire that ravages the defense of mattresses seems uncontrollable, evidenced by the new banderilla released by Alves, in the second blade on a center set back from Gavi (4-1, 49e). The pawn too many for Simeone who tries a last stand by making three changes, while the reduction of the score of Suárez, opportunist on corner (4-2, 58e), will not change the result or the physiognomy of the match, to the advantage of Xavi’s team. The latter, necessarily satisfied with beating the defending champion and finding the top 4 (38 points, 36 for Atlético), even took the opportunity to offer Aubameyang his first minutes with the Catalan club. The perfect evening, or almost, for the Blaugrana, who nevertheless finished at ten following the expulsion of Alves, his tenth in La Liga, guilty of a coarse sole on the calf of Carrasco. True to form, the Brazilian will challenge the decision until the end and doesn’t want to let go. Like what Barça offered today, finally conquering. Worries ? Here they are now gone on the side of the mattresses.
FC Barcelona (4-3-3): Ter Stegen – Alves, Araújo, Piqué, Alba – Pedri (González, 66e), Busquets, De Jong – Traoré (Aubameyang, 61e), Torres, Gavi (Dest, 71e). Trainer: Xavi Hernandez.
Atletico Madrid (4-3-3) : Oblak – Vrsaljko (Wass, 46e), Savić, Giménez, Hermoso (Cunha, 55e) – DePaul, Koke (Herrera, 76e), Lemar (Reinildo, 55e) – Carrasco, Suarez, Felix (Correa, 56e). Trainer: Diego Simeon.
By Fabien Gelinat