Atletico Madrid registered their first LaLiga victory over Barcelona in over a decade with a 1-0 triumph on Saturday night at the Estadio Wanda Metropolitano.
Yannick Carrasco took advantage of a mistake from Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen to extend the Catalan club’s winless streak in league play to three matches. Adding to Barcelona’s woes were the injuries suffered by Gerard Pique and Sergi Roberto, with the veteran centre-back suffering what looks to be a serious knee injury.
There were no major surprises from Atletico head coach Diego Simeone in his starting XI, with Angel Correa starting ahead of Diego Costa up top, while Jose Maria Gimenez and Stefan Savic were selected as the centre-back pairing.
Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman opted for Sergi Roberto at right-back over Sergino Dest, while injuries to Sergio Busquets and Ansu Fati paved the way for starts for Miralem Pjanic and Ousmane Dembele.
The teams traded early chances, with Atletico coming close when Marcos Llorente cranked a hard-hit shot off the crossbar.
The match took on the familiar shape that is seen when these two teams meet, with Barcelona enjoying most of the possession while Atletico sat waiting, ready to pounce on the counter-attack.
Messi had the best chance for Barcelona coming shortly before half time when Jordi Alba found him with a surgical pass, but the Argentine’s effort was denied by Atletico stopper Jan Oblak.
It’s not often that Ter Stegen commits an error, but the German made a glaring mistake right before half time and it gifted Atletico a 1-0 lead. Atletico started a break at midfield thanks to Pique’s heavy touch, with a ball played up field to Carrasco. The Atletico man was met by Ter Stegen playing way off his line, but Carrasco kept his cool and promptly nutmegged the visiting goalkeeper before swinging a shot into an open net.
Philippe Coutinho was called on by Koeman to replace Pedri before the hour mark for a spark, coinciding with a gilt-edged chance for Clement Lenglet, who headed right at Oblak after an inch-perfect cross from Messi.
Barcelona’s bad luck continued into the second half when Pique had to be helped off the field with an apparent knee injury, with Dest coming on to replace the veteran centre-back, forcing Frenkie de Jong to the backline.
Minutes later, Simeone countered with Diego Costa replacing Llorente in hopes of finding a second to put Barcelona away.
Martin Braithwaite and Francisco Trincao were the next ones on to try to give the Barcelona attack a late boost, sending Pjanic and Griezmann to the bench, respectively, while Thomas Lemar and Geoffrey Kondogbia came on for Joao Felix and Correa to fortify the Atletico midfield for the final minutes.
There would be one final look for Barcelona, coming off the right boot of Sergi Roberto, whose shot took a slight deflection but spun wide of Oblak’s post. In the end though, the night belonged to Atletico, while Barcelona’s away woes in domestic play show no signs of abating.
1.- Atletico Madrid: Oblak, Hermoso, Gimenez, Savic, Trippier, Saul, Koke, Carrasco (Felipe, min. 91), Llorente (Costa, min. 73), Correa (Kondogbia, min. 84), Joao Felix (Lemar, min. 84) .
0.- Barcelona: Ter Stegen, Sergi Roberto, Lenglet, Pique (Dest, min. 62), Jordi Alba, Pjanic (Braithwaite, min. 84), De Jong, Pedri (Coutinho, min. 57), Dembele, Griezmann (Trincao, min. 83 ), Messi.
Goals: 1-0, min. 45 + 3: Carrasco.
Referee: Munuera Montero (Andalusia).
Yellow cards: Koke (Min. 9) for Atletico, Carrasco (Min. 26) for Atletico, Savic (Min. 79) for Atletico, Gimenez (Min. 80) for Atletico.
Red cards: None.
Stadium: Camp Nou.