First half goals from Thomas Lemar and Luis Suarez gave Atletico Madrid a 2-0 win over Barcelona on Saturday night, as Los Rojiblancos move up to second in La Liga.
The visitors settled into the game quickly, boasting the lion’s share of possession in the early stages. It was Diego Simeone’s side, however, that broke the deadlock with a razor sharp move in the 24th minute. Joao Felix opened up the pitch with a stunning touch before finding Luis Suarez, who in turn played through Thomas Lemar to fire past Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
The lead was doubled on the brink of half-time by Suarez himself, bagging his first goal against his former employers. Following a breakaway move, Lemar played a measured ball into the path of the Uruguayan, who showed superb composure to take his time before clinically finding the bottom corner.
A change of system helped La Blaugrana look brighter and more creative after the interval, although a composed and mature Atleti side were more than comfortable to remain firm and see out a well-earned 2-0 victory. The win moves the hosts up to second in the La Liga table, while Barcelona sit ninth having suffered their first league defeat of the season.
Jan Oblak (GK) – 7/10 – This guy will really have you physically asking the question ‘how did he do that?’ Yet another ridiculous save to keep Philippe Coutinho out on 60 minutes but, otherwise, rarely troubled.
Stefan Savic (CB) – 8/10 – Calm and collected in the face of danger, reading the game well throughout to make seven ball recoveries.
Jose Gimenez (CB) – 8/10 – Remained alert and strong, covering his colleagues well to make three tackles, and positioned himself cleverly to register nine clearances.
Mario Hermoso (CB) – 5/10 – Caught out several times, often making rash decisions with his pressing and tackling. Also fairly imprecise with his ball distribution, decisively proving the weakest link in the backline on the night.
Marcos Llorente (RWB) – 6/10 – Typically willing to sprint anywhere and everywhere although had more impact from a central position after half time.
Rodrigo De Paul (CM) – 6/10 – A solid but unremarkable outing, keeping things tight in the centre but rarely threatening to add any spark to proceedings. Taken off at half time, looking exhausted.
Koke (CM) – 7/10 – Destructive at the heart of midfield, working tirelessly to cover ground and stifle any creative danger from Barcelona, eventually making five ball recoveries.
Thomas Lemar (CM) – 9/10 – Crucial in putting the visitors to the sword, surging forward to add a body in attack as Felix pulled defenders out of position. Made his intelligent display count by, firstly, emphatically finishing to open the scoring and, secondly, providing a brilliant assist for his side’s second.
Yannick Carrasco (LWB) – 5/10 – Wasn’t allowed to have much joy in the final third. A fairly quiet night for the Belgian.
Joao Felix (ST) – 8/10 – Wow. What a first half. Intelligent with his untraceable movement, mesmerising with his untouchable dribbling, awe-inspiring with his creativity and absolutely central to Atleti’s attacking play. The creative source of both goals.
Luis Suarez (ST) – 8/10 – Excellent at linking play with colleagues, notably grabbing a neat assist for Lemar’s opener and was as clinical as expected to double the lead before the interval.
Kieran Trippier (RWB) – 6/10 – Unforgiving with his tackling – always fun to see as a neutral.
Angel Correa (ST) – 6/10
Antoine Griezmann (ST) – 6/10
Renan Lodi (LWB) – 6/10
Felipe (CB) – 6/10
Marc-Andre ter Stegen (GK) – 6/10 – Wasn’t given much chance of stopping either strike and proved reliable otherwise.
Oscar Mingueza (RB) – 6/10 – Firm at the back, defending very well to stifle the progress of Carrasco but simply failed to add any quality when on the front foot.
Ronald Araujo (CB) – 3/10 – Given the absolute run-around by the the hosts’ front line, leaving acres of space behind him with costly consequences.
Gerard Pique (CB) – 6/10 – Strong and quick to cover for his full-back, putting in a couple of tasty tackles.
Sergino Dest (LB) – 4/10 – Obviously no one has let him know he can actually go on the outside of his full-back yet. So predictable.
Frenkie de Jong (RM) – 6/10 – A class act when he’s on-song. Moved the opposition around with some clever movement and looked masterful when in possession, turning sharply and dictating the tempo with subtle yet such effective feints. Unfortunately, his song was playing too sporadically to make a real impact against Atletico, proving relatively quiet for the majority.
Sergio Busquets (CM) – 6/10 – Distributed the ball nicely, occasionally finding some beautifully weighted passes that cut through the hosts’ lines. Defended valiantly against such dynamic opposition, too, making four ball recoveries.
Nico Gonzalez (CM) – 4/10 – A good physical presence but showed his immaturity, often finding himself wrong side – including for the opening goal – and committing needless fouls without being able to protect his back four. Hooked off at the break.
Gavi (LM) – 6/10 – Like watching a mini Pedri – if that’s possible. Tenacious, quick of mind and foot, bright and persistently forward-thinking. Desperate to make things happen, but failed to muster the end product to do so.
Philippe Coutinho (ST) – 5/10 – Completely ineffective in the first half but was much brighter when moved out to the left after the break. Creative and tricky from wide but should have scored on the hour mark.
Memphis Depay (ST) – 6/10 – Gave more than his all to inspire his side to a result, but it wasn’t enough. Was involved in play all over the field but couldn’t carve out the killer pass and didn’t get the service to make the breakthrough himself.
Sergi Roberto (CM) – 5/10 – Kept the ball moving efficiently although never looked likely to produce a decisive moment.
Ansu Fati (LW) – 6/10 – A joy to watch in full flight. Electric feet, swift movement and so dangerous in the tightest of spaces. Unable to create that bit of magic to bail out his side, however.
Luuk de Jong (ST) – 5/10
Riqui Puig (CM) – 6/10
Clemet Lenglet (LWB) – N/A