Undefeated in La Liga since mid-October, FC Barcelona takes a three-point lead at the top of La Liga thanks to its precious success at Atlético Antoine Griezmann (1-0). An illumination from Pedri and a finish from Ousmane Dembélé was enough.
Atlético 0-1 Barcelona
Goal: Dembele (22e) for Barca
Sent off: Savic (90e+2) for Atlético // Torres (90e+2) for Barca
Barça are still very, very far from being champions in Spain, but here is a mini break. After their draw against neighbors Espanyol on New Year’s Eve (1-1), the Catalans did not miss the opportunity to take a three-point lead over Real Madrid, who fell to Villarreal on Saturday (1-2). Without the suspended Robert Lewandowski, Barcelona attacked with Ansu Fati up front. So much to say from the start: Fati went on the hour mark, having gone through this match very painstakingly. Technically hesitant at first, this shock sees Barça gradually take over. Giménez saves e.g. Madrid’s homeland in disaster in front of Fati (10e). On the other hand, it lacks this imagination to choose the right gesture and create a shift. Everything Pedri has.
Debouze power 5
A temporization, a vision and sudden genius. The suddenness of Pedri’s acceleration still impresses us. 22e minute: on thirty meters and while Griezmann is on his tail, the Barcelona lump goes to the surface colchonera. The Spanish international infiltrates at full speed and serves Gavi. The other pearl blaugrana extension for Ousmane Dembélé, who only has to complete law (0-1, 22e). The Frenchman’s fifth league goal could (should?) have been disallowed by VAR as Gavi appeared to illegally keep Reinildo out of the tackle before his decisive pass. Too easy, Pedri almost killed the match in stride on a suicidal return from Giménez (24.e). Pedri chooses a ladle. Bad idea.
One glimpse and that’s it. After these two slightly crazy minutes, Atlético finally came out of their torpor, created several interesting moves, tried their luck many times, but never shook the lead. Intentions, yes, but lack of imagination. Much more is needed to shake the best defense in La Liga (6 goals conceded in 16 games). Biggest opportunity until added time? Well served with good work from Yannick Carrasco, Griezmann arms but Ter Stegen reads the pitch well (42e). Diego Simeone’s changes (subs from Morata, Lemar, Correa) don’t really have an impact. Until break time. As if he had just understood that it was now or never, Atlético added a little more intensity and created an incredible opportunity: found by Correa on the penalty spot, Griezmann sees Araujo, very good this Sunday night, save the leather on his line (90e+4). In order not to miss the Champions League train at the end of the season, Koke and others must find another breath. The inhabitants of the Wanda Metropolitano are 5is, with only 27 points. Majorca, 10eis five lengths behind.
Barça can go to the Spanish Super Cup (semi-final against Betis on Thursday in Saudi Arabia) with some confidence. Xavi’s men haven’t had the game of their lives, far from it, but it pays off in the end. And that is the most important. 16 days, 13 victories, an iron defense, a place as leader: this FC Barcelona knows how to win without shining. This may negate their history, but we bet Joan Laporta doesn’t care.
Atletico (4-4-2): Oblak – Molina, Savic, Giménez, Reinildo (Reguilon, 81e) – Llorente, Koke (Lemar, 73e), Barrios (Kondogbia, 64e), Carrasco (Morata, 64e) – João Felix (Correa, 73e), Griezmann. Coach: Diego Simone.
Barcelona (4-3-3): Ter Stegen – Koundé, Araujo, Christensen, Alejandro Balde (Alonso, 81e) – Gavi (Raphinha, 73e), Sergio Busquets (Roberto, 81e), De Jong (Kessie, 57e) – Pedri, Dembélé, Ansu Fati (Torres, 57e). Coach: Xavi.
By Timothé Crepin