Atlético Madrid’s first half show towards FC Barcelona on Sunday was among the many staff’s most interesting intervals of play this season. A lot has been stated about Barcelona’s defensive deficiencies — that are evident, actually — however comparatively, much less credit score has been given to Diego Simeone’s attacking trident.
João Félix, Thomas Lemar, and Luis Suárez mixed for each Atlético targets within the eventual 2-0 win. The counterattacking efficiency was so complete that Atleti sat again and breezed by way of the second half regardless of ringing up solely 30 % possession on the Wanda Metropolitano.
Lemar scored Atlético’s first objective within the twenty third minute. The objective’s significance because the eventual match-winner is just one angle — from a wider lens, it additionally symbolizes Lemar’s astonishing Neo-like resurrection, Félix’s post-surgery emergence, and the champions attempting to introduce extra selection into the a Suárez-heavy strategy we noticed within the second half of final season.
Let’s dive just a little deeper into Lemar’s strike, and the way it encapsulates the current separation in school between Atlético and Barcelona.
Within the first GIF, listen not solely to Mario Hermoso’s imaginative and prescient and laser cross, however how Yannick Carrasco hugs the touchline in entrance of Simeone. Carrasco’s excessive width attracts Barcelona right-back Óscar Mingueza’s consideration — and this provides João Félix the possibility to get Ronald Araújo in a one-on-one matchup.
Araújo is Barcelona’s finest center-back, however Félix places him in a blender with a pointy flip that instantly begins a break towards the guests’ closing third. The Portuguese’s agility almost-singlehandedly destabilizes Barça’s already-fragile defensive construction.
Along with Araújo furiously attempting to re-enter the play, Gerard Piqué is scrambling and leaves Suárez on his personal — and Suárez, who has misplaced athleticism however not his intelligence, acknowledges he’s nonetheless able to contribute to Atlético’s buildup.
Younger midfielder Nico González is monitoring Lemar, however begins backpedaling as soon as Félix takes off. Like most issues today, the 19-year-old’s lapse in focus drew Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman’s ire in his postgame media availability. Lemar duly accelerates, Suárez spots his run, and the Uruguayan hits a one-touch cross immediately into the Frenchman’s path.
Araújo practically catches as much as Lemar, however the injury to Barça’s protection is finished — the midfielder pops the ball into the highest of the online for his second objective this season, leaving Marc-André Ter Stegen with no probability to reserve it.
In solely a 10-second span, Hermoso, Félix, Suárez, and Lemar mixed to fireside Atlético right into a lead the staff wouldn’t relinquish.
Lemar completed the match with a objective and a Forty fourth-minute help for Suárez — the first time he’s scored and arrange a objective in the identical sport for Atlético. Félix’s two hockey assists solely inform a portion of his highly-encouraging evening — in 71 minutes, the 21-year-old racked up a team-high 144 yards of progressive distance along with seven progressive carries (with 4 into the ultimate third). His tasks in Atlético’s assault proceed to develop, corresponding along with his return to health.
As in lots of conferences throughout the Lionel Messi period, Barcelona had 70 % possession and accomplished practically thrice as many passes as Atlético. However there was no Messi to reply the questions from Simeone’s well-drilled low block. Philippe Coutinho — the poster little one for the Bartomeu board’s excesses — had his aspect’s finest probabilities, however he drew Jan Oblak into only one save. Frenkie De Jong was isolated, whereas José Giménez and Stefan Savić dealt comfortably with Dutch worldwide Memphis.
Regardless of scoring 11 targets throughout eight weeks, Atleti enter the worldwide break in a three-way tie for first place in LaLiga after Actual Sociedad drew with Getafe and Real Madrid had been stunned at Espanyol on Sunday. Even in Barça’s weakened state, a victory over the blaugrana nonetheless ranks as an essential one for the rojiblancos — however crucially, given how the defending champions have performed so far in 2021/22, they’ve gotten outcomes. And Saturday’s win confirmed indicators that Simeone is rounding his males into kind.