Barcelona preserved their unbeaten start to the season as a late equaliser ensured a 1-1 draw against Atletico Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday
The hosts took charge of the proceedings during the early stages of the match, following Lionel Messi’s surge into the box in the first minute. In fact, Marc-Andre ter Stegen was tested twice inside the first ten minutes as he made two sharp saves to keep the game all square.
But, the deadlock was broken in style in the 20th minute, when Saul Niguez fired a long range curler past the Barcelona goalkeeper. Thereafter, it was the visitors who looked the stronger of the two sides, as they created the clearer goalscoring opportunities, with Messi coming close with a free-kick as well.
Barcelona were finally rewarded in the 82nd minute, when Luis Suarez struck a powerful header past Jan Oblak after being found by a pinpoint Sergi Roberto cross. The result ended the Blaugrana’s perfect start to the campaign, but they do remain the only unbeaten Spanish side this season.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) October 14, 2017
However, bitter rivals ended up closing the gap on Barcelona to five points. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Ernesto Valverde’s men after an entertaining draw at the Wanda Metropolitano.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen: 8/10
A typically solid outing for the German, he made two brilliant saves from Antoine Griezmann in the first ten minutes to the score deadlocked. However, he was finally forced to pick the ball from his net when Saul Niguez struck a sensational goal. Other than that moment, the German shot-stopper didn’t let anything past him and looked assured.
Nelson Semedo: 6/10
An uncharacteristically subdued outing for Semedo, who wasn’t at his best for large parts of the match and was withdrawn midway through the second half. While the Portuguese defender was largely solid on the night, he failed to create an impact in the final third where his pace could have come in handy. Needs to pull up his socks.
Gerard Pique: 6/10
Met with ferocious jeering pretty much throughout the game, which seemed to be affecting him in the early stages of the match, Pique was often troubled by Antoine Griezmann. However, he grew into the match as the minutes passed by, and he also did well to build play from the back.
Samuel Umtiti: 7/10
Umtiti against Atletico:
Clutch tackles: 45
Pass success: 148%
Beaten in one v one situations: -20
Aerial duels won: all of them pic.twitter.com/qwJL74T5JQ
— BarcaGame (@JustBarca45) October 14, 2017
Yet again the best defender for Barcelona in a match, Umtiti has well and truly stamped his authority at the club. What was most impressive about his outing was the the Frenchman sniffed out the danger early on to stop a few counterattacks, showing a lot of composure while also displaying his abilities on the ball. Barcelona have struck gold by signing him.
Jordi Alba: 6/10
One of the strongest performers for Barcelona before the weekend, Alba wasn’t at his best on Saturday. Sloppy in possession and sub-par with his crossing, the Spaniard was lacking in his decision making. Tried his best, and he did make three key passes on the night, but he’ll need to produce better in future games.
Ivan Rakitic: 5/10
Another player who wasn’t at his best on the night, Rakitic was largely anonymous and was wasteful whenever he had the ball. Inconsistent performances like Saturday’s are the reason why he often filtered in and out of the side last season, and the Croat did not do himself any favour against Atletico either.
Sergio Busquets: 7/10
A typically no-nonsense performance, Busquets maintained the tempo of the game as Barcelona took charge of the proceedings, especially in the second half. His brilliant reading of the game came to the fore once again on Saturday as he stopped a few counterattacks with ease.
Andres Iniesta: 7/10
The international break seems exactly something that Iniesta was in desperate need of as he looked well rested after an injury induced layoff. The veteran midfielder showed all his experience as he looked to create the chances for his side’s frontmen, but was taken off at the hour mark.
Andre Gomes: 5/10
The Portuguese is running out of chances at Barcelona after yet another poor outing on Saturday. Deployed in an unfamiliar role in the front trio, Gomes was pretty much a passenger before he was shifted into a more central role following Gerard Deulofeu’s introduction. He does not look at home at the club, and his departure looks nigh.
Lionel Messi: 7/10
The brightest spark for Barcelona, it seemed like the elusive goal would eventually come from his boots. He often got that goal as Jan Oblak looked helpless from his free-kick, but the post denied him. However, his influence was neutralised well by the Atletico Madrid defence as they crowded him out of the ball.
Luis Suarez: 7/10
Luis Suarez becomes the first player to score an away league goal at the Wanda Metropolitano! 💪 pic.twitter.com/dkinICHLE2
— B/R Football (@brfootball) October 14, 2017
His form continues to remain concerning for the Barcelona faithful as Suarez offered very little in the first half. But, the Uruguayan grew into the game as it progressed, looking a far threatening prospect in the second half.
Suarez was finally rewarded for his efforts when he equalised with a thumping header. But, he needs to improve for Barcelona to remain atop the La Liga table, and stand a chance in the Champions League.
Sergi Roberto: 7/10
Looked more threatening in the final third than Semedo did in a lengthier stint, Roberto’s pinpoint cross was duly converted by Suarez. His versatility is truly an asset for Barcelona.
Gerard Deulofeu: 7/10
Far more menacing that Gomes on the right flank, Deulofeu looked dangerous during his short stint and is a player who perhaps deserves more regular inclusion.
Came on late and had very little to do going forward. But his presence in midfield was crucial.