Barcelona defeated Atletico Madrid 1-0 on Sunday at the Estadio Metropolitano to move three points clear of LaLiga. Ousmane Dembele scored the game-winning goal. For the best sports betting casinos of January 2023 make sure you check our CasinoDaddy!
After excellent work from Pedri and Gavi, Dembele shot past Jan Oblak in the 22nd minute to conclude Barca’s exciting start. After going down, Atletico regained momentum, and Jose Maria Gimenez nearly scored with a header before Antoine Griezmann pushed Marc-Andre ter Stegen into a superb save. After halftime, Griezmann missed a second opportunity, and Dembele missed two chances to give Barcelona the victory.
When Ferran Torres and Stefan Savic were both sent off for colliding in the 92nd minute, both teams were down to 10 men, but Barca still required a last-second goal-line clearance from Ronald Araujo to secure three crucial away points.
Barcelona performed poorly after the World Cup break. Espanyol kept them hostage in LaLiga, and they required extra time to defeat Intercity in the Copa del Rey midweek. The setback of Real Madrid against Villarreal on Saturday, however, had improved the atmosphere in Barcelona and provided the opportunity to go three points ahead at the top of LaLiga.
Barcelona took the opportunity, even though it wasn’t always simple. On Sunday, they got off to a strong start thanks to manager Xavi Hernandez’s choice to start four midfielders rather than three to make up for the absence of banned striker Robert Lewandowski. Ansu Fati missed two before Dembele eventually broke the tie after Pedri and Gavi teamed up to generate chances for the strikers. After an Atletico goal, Pedri had a golden opportunity to increase Barca’s advantage but he blew it.
But after that, with Atletico in command and Barca under duress, the game changed. Despite having a lineup that prioritizes the midfield, Barca lost control of the pitch’s center, and their lead was only maintained by their defense. Particularly strong defenders were Andreas Christensen and Araujo, whose last-second clearing off the line to prevent Griezmann secured the victory.
At this point in the season, Xavi said that a victory would not make a difference in the championship race. Still, the manner the Barca players celebrated—falling to the ground on the soggy field before addressing their cheering fans in a stadium corner—made it clear just how significant this victory was.
With Dembele, you never know what you’ll get. This is what makes him difficult to counter and, at times, maddening to watch. Barca supporters had the complete Dembele Experience against Atletico.
With a beautiful right-footed finish across Oblak, the French winger opened the scoring with his seventh goal of the season in all competitions, five of which have come in the league. He is the only player in LaLiga with five or more goals and five or more assists this season, sharing the distinction with Griezmann of Atletico. As Atletico sought an equalizer in the second half, his quickness then proved to be Barca’s most significant — and essentially only — outlet.
Atletico will think they earned at least a point in this game. Gimenez’s header skimmed the post, Ter Stegen stopped Griezmann, and Nahuel Molina missed a chance to equal before Araujo’s late heroics. With five of their last 20 efforts going on target compared to Barca’s two, Atletico had the most shots in a LaLiga defeat in the previous two seasons.
Their title aspirations may have been restored by a victory on a weekend when cross-city rival Real Madrid also suffered defeat by bringing them within eight points of first place. Instead, the loss leaves them 11 points behind Madrid and 14 below Barcelona.
That chance may have been taken advantage of by the title-winning Atletico teams coached by Diego Simeone in the past against a weak Barcelona squad. Atletico’s fight this season is to finish in the top four and return to the Champions League next season, although they will mourn wasted opportunities and unfortunate fate.