Barcelona held on to a 2-2 draw with Atletico Madrid further to the disarray giving a 4 point gap to Real Madrid.
The build-up to the match did not go according to Barcelona’s plan, starting with Arthur’s transfer to Juventus at the end of the season, and reports of a team bust-after Celta Vigo game where Barca conceded two crucial away points causing much dissent to the fans and media.
The line-up at the start for Barcelona was somewhat surprising as Setien left out his two attackers Griezmann and Ansu Fati, on the bench and giving the third attacking option role to Vidal.
Barcelona started well during 15 mins applying much-needed pressure on Atletico’s defense for an early lead. They got the first breakthrough from a Messi corner which deflected by Diego Costa resulted into an own goal.
But soon, Atletico was awarded a penalty through a brilliant run in by Carrasco going past on Pique onto the left flank and then bundled over by Vidal. Ter Stegan brilliantly denied Costa. Dramatic scenes soared when VAR came into the picture when the penalty had to be retaken on which Saul took the penalty and slotted past the bottom-right corner to make it 1-1.
Messi, as much on his shoulders to create more attacking plays, came near close to the closing stages of the first half, where Oblak punched the ball on his left to keep him at bay. But he got his most awaited 700th career goal for club and country where he scored from his trademark panenka finish in 50th min, giving Barcelona a much-needed lead to take off the pressure.
Barcelona had to win this home game to keep the title race alive got a shocker when Atletico again was awarded a second penalty. Saul converted his penalty much to the frustration of Ter Stegan, where he went to his right way of stopping almost keeping the ball but not good enough for saving it, and Atletico made it 2-2. The pressure was piling up for Barcelona to go for the win, which they showed from their game-play by Vidal and by Puig putting his electrifying pace and energy on the pitch.
Puig, on the other hand, was showing promising glimpses of what Barcelona fans will be watching in the future with his constant pressuring on the opposition and having a pass success rate of 92%.
Time was running out for Setien to change his front three attackers with Suarez, who was somewhat invisible throughout the match with no significant contribution on the field, much falling the instead dependency on Leo Messi to grab the winner. In the final minutes, Setien decided to bring Ansu Fati and then Griezmann, who is yet to score a goal for Barcelona post the lockdown season restart was on to field during the stoppage point to infuse some pace and attacking intent for the home team which was not enough.
The home side had to shared points with Atletico giving Real now a 4 point advantage if they win their next game will further strengthen their claim for this season’s La Liga crown.
*Stats from Fot-Mob app