First leg Champions League semi-final against Atletico ends in drawApril 2, 2014
Atletico Madrid is turning out to be the big rival in the Spanish league this season, although it is still to early to write of Real Madrid, and so it was rather unfortunate for Barcelona to be drawn against them in the Champions League. On the other hand it also presents a chance for either team to get ahead mentally in the domestic competition, with whichever team qualifies for the final surely mentally wired to win the la liga title too.
Looking back at recent matches there is a clear pattern. Since facing Atletico twice in August for the Spanish Supercup and then in January in the league all matches have ended in a draw. In August they first played at the Vicente Calderon stadium, drawing 1-1, followed by the Nou Camp leg of the competition, which ended goalless and Barça taking the trophy thanks to the away goal rule.
And then in January, at the Vicente Calderon for the first leg in the Spanish league, the matched ended a goalless draw again. And so perhaps it was unsurprising that last night at the Nou Camp the match ended with each team scoring a goal apiece.
The beginning of the match began a bit scrappily for Barça, but once they seemed to have warmed up a bit that changed; Pique came off with a thigh injury, replaced by Bartra, after just 10 minutes following a fall, another blow to the squad. After the first quarter hour Barcelona’s performance picked up visibly and began to dominate, controlling possession and ensuring play was focused on the Atletico end. Despite this neither team had many opportunities to score, and the few chances on goal were stopped.
The match was certainly exciting though as both teams were playing well, although perhaps Messi was slightly off. As the match progressed though the referee seemed reluctant to show any cards to the visitors who were going in harder and harder against the Catalans.
Soon after the break the visitors went ahead, when Diego scored following a free kick and Pinto was just unable to get his hands to the ball, which slipped into the top corner. With Atletico now with the advantage, Barça stepped up the pace, with the visitors response being an increase in fouls. Finally Neymar equalised nearly half an hour into the second half and although the players kept on the pressure they were unable to score another to win this leg.
Next week sees Barça travel to Madrid for the return leg, with Atletico having the advantage after scoring away from home. If the current pattern of goals remains then the match will end goalless; however, there is no reason for that to happen and Barcelona needs to focus on getting an early goal to win this round outright.
On social media some Barça fans were complaining that the team lacked the killer instinct last night. I don’t think that is the case at all, apart from a poor start they rose to the challenge and produced some great football. The problem is that Atletico is really on form this season and a true competitor, much more so than Real Madrid.
0-1 Diego (min 58)
1-1 Neymar (min 73)