Barcelona beat Atlético de Madrid 4-2 at the Camp Nou on Sunday 6th February in La Liga to get the fourth spot in the table. The Catalans are on 38 points, 2 behind Real Betis in third who lost to Villareal. They still have a mountain to climb as Real Madrid are on 51 points at the top. Jordi Alba, Dani Alves, Gavi, and Ronald Araujo scored for Barcelona while Luis Suárez and Carassco scored for Atlético de Madrid.
Barcelona had a lot of pressure coming into this game as they had to get the fourth spot. The team played at the Camp Nou after 50 days, the first game of the year at home. The Cataans had a ton of new signings who made their debut. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Adama Traore, and Ferran Torres made their Camp Nou debuts. The same goes for Dani Alves who returned to the club.
Adama Traore played on the right alongside Ferran Torres in the middle with Gavi on the left. Jordi Alba ran down the left wing to provide crosses inside the box. Barcelona started on the front foot, pressing high and making constant threats. Yet it was Diego Simione’s men who opened the scoring against the run of play. Yannick Carrasco scored in an easy bottom left corner finish in the eighth minute.
Atlético de Madrid had a few spells of attack through Joao Felix who was a constant threat on goal due to his pace and dribbling. Barcelona equalized within two minutes with Jordi Alba scoring a first time volley with his ankle and his foot. Some say that it was a cross that went into the net, but it was a great goal. Gavi scored the second goal when he headed the ball into the net in the 21st minute.
Adama Traore made great runs with the ball from the right and put in a cross for Gavi. The 17-year-old headed the ball home to make it 2-1 for the hosts. Barcelona kept on creating chances with Ferran Torres missing a couple of them. Atletico were forced to sit back and played on the counter only.
The Camp Nou was fired up, as the game was very intense. The fans were off their feet when Ronald Araujo got the third two minutes before half-time in the 43rd minute. The second half was a rather nervy one from the blaugrana as they were on the back foot. Simione must’ve instructed his team to attack the Catalans and that is what they did.
Atlético de Madrid tried to create chances, winning corners and set pieces, and even got a goal through Luis Suarez. Barcelona lost control of the game, and just defended. Xavi Hernandez made a few changes bringing in Nico Gonzales and Aubameyang for Pedri and Gavi. Dani Alves got a deserved red card and Sergino Dest was brought on as a defensive change. The game finished 4-2 in the end, Barcelona getting all three points.
A Word From The Players
Gerard Pique: “Was this win important? Obviously, yes. It was a win over a direct competitor. This win is important before the derby because it gives us confidence for rest of the matches.”
“Equalizing Puyol in number of matches for Barça? I enjoy every game I play in this shirt. I’m glad to share the number with Puyol and I’d like to send him a hug if he is watching.We are confident that we can compete with any team. The team is growing a lot after the wins over Alaves and Atlético Madrid.”
Jordi Alba: “It was a perfect match for everyone. I thought the fans enjoyed both teams, and they were proud of the team’s performance. I think we dominated the game, especially in the half and knew how to dominate and control the opponent.”
“The advantage we had today against Atletico Madrid, they are a team that can create chances, but today we knew how to compete against a difficult opponent. Maybe the red card affected us a little bit in the second half, but we’re happy with the win. One of the best matches this season. We did what was required of us.”
“We had a lot of disappointments this season and this win gives us and our fans a lot of strength. It was a nice goal and I’m happy with that. A great feeling, especially since it was the equalizer. A win against a direct opponent. Great match. I hope we continue like this.”
Dani Alves: “It was a dream to play at the Camp Nou. It was very special to come back here despite the red card.. We will fight to put Barça in the place that it deserves. Although Barca is not at it’s best, we have to be there for the rebuild. In these moments we must be united. Because we feel the colors and history of the club.”
Dani Alves “My role against Atletico Madrid? Football has changed and we have to adapt to that. You have to understand needs of the match and the requests of the coach. I like tactical things too.We are working to put Barcelona where it deserves to be. Becoming the oldest player to score for Barça? Age is just a number. Today I felt the same as my first match with Barça.”
Ronald Araujo: “The fans helped us a lot. Today it was important that we win. The match went as planned, we are very satisfied. I am very happy with the victory and with the three points. We made a great match. The goal was to reach fourth place. We played good football. All that the coach asked of us came out.
“When Ferran touched the ball I thought the attack was over but luckily I managed to score. The atmosphere of this match was closest to the Benfica match in the UCL. That’s what we trained on. We knew that Atleti could come back with a score, so we scored whenever we could. This match was a final and our goal was to win. Mission accomplished.”
Mateu Alemany (director of football): “We saw a great match, got the three points and got back to the champions’ positions. The players played a great match against a great opponent, and I hope that gives them confidence. We are very proud and happy. It’s probably the best game for Xavi since he arrived in Barcelona as coach.
Mateu Alemany “Atlético Madrid is a very difficult rival, but the team was very good. With the red card and their second goal, we struggled for 20 minutes but the team knew how to deal with this situation.Dembele has a contract, he’s a professional player, and we hope he behaves like this.”
A Word From The Manager
Xavi: “Barça, the players and the staff needed this win. Yes, this was more than just a win. We needed this win for the fans. I thank the fans and the players. It was a great match today. We feel like one united family.
“Until Dani Alves was sent off, the match was perfect, and then we fell back a little because we were defending and playing with 10 men. In my opinion, the first 60 minutes is the Barcelona we want. Adama is very mature, he knows what to do and he is a beast physically with the grace of a human being. In 1 on 1 situations, you can’t beat him.”
“Since I arrived 3 months ago, we have improved a lot. I am proud of this team. Our goal this season in the league is to be among top 4 and qualify for the champions league. Everyone needed this win, it can be a turning point. We have to be humble, it is an important win in front of a champion team. I think we did an excellent 60 minutes.”
“I am very happy. When we had 11 players, we attacked very well, we looked excellent in the middle, it’s the area that distinguished us, with Alves we made this superiority. We performed well, and had an excellent first half.”
“I ask the fans not to whistle for Dembele.”
“After Alves was sent off, we showed how to work, we showed solidarity in our defense and didn’t suffer. We all needed such a win, us and the fans. We beat a big opponent, and we did it very well. I also want to commend the fans today. We have to keep going at this level, it would be great to keep winning.”
Xavi to the Barcelona dressing room after yesterday’s win over Atlético Madrid : “Come On! Nobody can stop us now.”