Barça suffered but ended up winning 1-0 on the lawn of Atlético Madrid, Sunday during the 16th day in a clash that kept its promises, and stands out at the top of the La Liga standings for which it is now sole leader.
Xavi’s players take advantage of Real Madrid’s misstep, beaten 2-1 the day before at Villarreal – which climbs to 6th place tied on points with Atletico – to now count on their great Madrid rival three steps ahead.
After its poor performance in the derby against Espanyol (1-1) at the end of the year and a qualification for the King’s Cup snatched against the modest club of D3 CF Intercity at the end of the extension (3-3, 4-3) Thursday, Barça had to react.
It was complicated, but Xavi’s men did it with courage. They opened the scoring on a school action: after work in the heart of the game, Pedri, launched in a series of dribbles, relied on Gavi who, with a small headline, dismissed Reinildo before shifting Ousmane Dembélé without opposition.
The French winger did not question himself by placing a cross shot out of reach of Jan Oblak (22nd). After protests from the Madrid players, the goal was validated with the help of VAR.
In the aftermath Pedri found himself in an ideal position, put into orbit by an opposing back pass, but the Spanish hopeful procrastinated and Oblak was able to avert the danger (24th).
– Barça mistreated –
After Gimenez, whose recovery from the head went just wide (33rd), Antoine Griezmann saw his shot miraculously repelled for a corner by André ter Stegen (42).
In the second act, Barça were manhandled by a decidedly less wait-and-see Atlético team. But at the heart of the storm, Dembélé, still twirling, had the break point before being taken over in extremis by Savic (62nd).
Griezmann believed to offer the equalizer to Colchoneros, but Araujo replaced his goalkeeper well to deprive the French international of a goal which would have rewarded his good performance.
The tension then rose a notch, the referee being forced to crack down by sending off a player on each side in added time.
Despite the various attempts by the Colchoneros, Barça’s defense held firm, and the Catalan team scored a precious success in the title race.
On the other hand, Atlético Madrid lost its illusions and found itself relegated to 5th place in the championship, now 14 points behind its winner of the day.
The Colchoneros especially see their horizon blocked because the competitors for Europe have won. Like Betis Sevilla, winner 2-1 on the lawn of Rayo Vallecano, who steals 4th place from them.
The other club of the Andalusian city, Sevilla FC, thanks to goals from its world champion Marcos Acuna and Rafa Mir, gave itself some air by winning in Getafe (2-1) to leave the relegation zone.
Earlier in the day, Real Sociedad had achieved the other good operation of the day by winning 2-0 in Almeria. This success allows the Basques to consolidate their third place in La Liga, with 32 points on the clock.