Barcelona might have ended all chances of retaining their La Liga crown after a 2-2 draw against Atletico Madrid on Wednesday night.
Barcelona played hosts to Atletico Madrid at Camp Nou in a game that promised and delivered top-notch entertainment, as Diego Simeone searched for his first win against the Blaugrana in La Liga since his appointment in 2011.
Quique Setien lined his side up a bit differently to tackle Atletico Madrid’s midfield quadrant. Riqui Puig started as the attacking midfielder, playing behind Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, while Ivan Rakitic, Sergio Busquets and Arturo Vidal screened the defence.
In what was a very eventful night, Barcelona scored early on thanks to a Messi corner turned in by Diego Costa. But, it was soon cancelled out as Yannick Carrasco won a penalty for Atletico Madrid, which was converted by Saul Niguez on the second attempt after Costa’s penalty was saved and retaken.
CONGRATULATIONS TO LEO #MESSI FOR SCORING THE 700TH GOAL OF HIS PROFESSIONAL CAREER!
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) June 30, 2020
The second half began strongly for Barcelona, who won a penalty thanks to Nelson Semedo’s efforts, with the spot-kick being scored by Messi for the 700th goal of his career. After winning a penalty, Semedo ‘supposedly’ gave one away 12 minutes later after Carrasco tripped himself while running.
Saul scored his second of the night after the controversial spot-kick decision stood. Neither team was able to add to their two goals for the night post this. The Hard Tackle now assesses the individual performance by each Barcelona player.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen: 7/10
The German shot-stopper had a lot to do against Atletico Madrid, but ended the game with only save, through no fault of his own. After initially saving Diego Costa’s penalty, ter Stegen could not keep out either of Saul’s efforts, even though he came very close to saving the second one. He completed 6 of his 9 attempted long passes, ending the game with a passing accuracy of 90%.
Nelson Semedo: 7/10
Semedo initially began the match poorly and was constantly absent from the right-hand side and had to be covered by Gerard Pique and Arturo Vidal, but soon found his feet in the game. He won 10 of his 17 ground duels and created two goal-scoring chances, one of which was so nearly converted by Vidal from the edge of the box.
Not to forget, Semedo won one and conceded one penalty for Barca. He was heavily involved involved in the game, taking 115 touches and completing 95% of his passes.
Gerard Pique: 7.5/10
Pique started his sixth game in a row and anyone would have thought fatigue would catch up to him by now. Despite that, he ended the game with a stellar 97.5% passing accuracy, which included a 100% long pass accuracy. He also won 5 of his six aerial duels and only lost possession 3 times against Atletico Madrid – the lowest of 22 players starting.
Clement Lenglet: 8/10
After a shambolic display by Samuel Umtiti last week, Lenglet returned to the heart of the Barcelona defence, partnering Pique. Six of his nine attempted long passes met their target, while he also won 100% of his aerial duels (3/3).
The Frenchman conceded no fouls against Atletico Madrid, winning 4/6 of the tackles he attempted. Moreover, Lenglet showed commitment to winning the ball back and kept man-in-form Marcos Llorente in his back-pocket through the ninety minutes. A much-needed return.
Jordi Alba: 7/10
Alba was at the heart of everything right and wrong on the left flank for Barcelona against Atletico Madrid in the absence of a natural winger. He created two goalscoring chances through pinpoint crosses, both of which were missed very nearly by Vidal. He won neither of his ground or aerial duels, though, since most of it was taken care of by Lenglet and Riqui Puig.
Arturo Vidal: 6.5/10
Vidal had a rather happening match, which started with a chance early on, which had to be cleared by Felipe. He missed three chances to score and one to break on a counter. He also conceded a penalty in the 19th minute which helped Atletico Madrid get level. He conceded five fouls and won 2, but was an important member in defence, constantly dispossessing Atletico’s forwards.
Sergio Busquets: 8/10
Barcelona’s midfielder-in-chief returned in his position after serving his one-match ban against Celta Vigo. The break served him well, as Busquets looked fresh and energetic, winning turnovers and starting attacks with defence-splitting passes. He won four fouls for Barcelona, one of which would have been converted by Messi had it not been for a stunning Jan Oblak save.
Moreover, the 31-year-old ended the game with a 92.2% passing accuracy, while completing six of his eight long passes.
Ivan Rakitic: 6.5/10
After several tremendous performances in the centre of the park since football resumed, Ivan Rakitic had a rather average game against Atletico Madrid. Rakitic was limited to the deep left-hand side for most of the game, but that happens often when Rakitic and Busquets are starting together. He completed 96.5% passes and was subbed off in the 63rd minute.
Riqui Puig: 10/10
Barcelona fans longed to see Riqui Puig to be a part of their midfield for so long and the youngster is making sure the hype was all worth it. Puig started as the attacking midfielder and covered every blade of grass in a tremendous shift, constantly dropping deep to collect the ball and start attacks. Even in the 90th minute, Puig was making sprints to drop back and cover for his fellow midfielders.
Here's Riqui freaki Puig cleansing one of the best midfielders in the world this season, with 10x the superior "physique". And it wasn't the only instance last night, either. https://t.co/xGkvk5lXrM
— Navid Molaaghaei (@navidjaaan) July 1, 2020
Everything good for Barcelona revolved around the 20-year-old, who completed 100% of his long balls, completed 6/6 dribbles, won 11/17 ground duels and made 3 tackles. Puig also completed 92% his passes and registered one goalscoring chance. A performance well beyond his years.
Lionel Messi: 8/10
Barcelona’s captain has clocked in 540 minutes straight without rest since the season resumed and he showed clear signs of fatigue and frustration. Messi was constanly misplacing passes, losing possession and showing anger towards the referee. Despite that, he scored a cheeky Panenka under all the pressure from the world, taking his career tally to a humongous 700.
The Argentine missed three chances to score yesterday, but all of them were shots which only Lionel Messi converts. He clipped the post from a stunning curl shot which went wide. Far from his best, but still tremendously classy.
Luis Suarez: 6/10
Luis Suarez was the most uninvolved starter for Barcelona on Wednesday, ending the game with only forty touches. He tried dropping deep constantly but did not really add anything to the game and was completely taken out of the game by the Atletico Madrid defence.
Sergi Roberto: 7/10
Roberto returned to the squad after missing three games due to a rib injury. He came on for Rakitic with nearly a third of the game left to play. Made several runs from deep to overcome the Atletico Madrid press and completed the only long pass he attempted. Will definitely start over Semedo next week.
Ansu Fati: N/A
Came on with five minutes to go; did not do enough to warrant a rating.
Antoine Griezmann: N/A
A late introduction.