Now this—with depth overflowing from the first whistle until the ultimate, and frantic, blitzkrieg attacking being thwarted via heroic defending—become the whole thing El Clásico become now not.
Atlético Madrid came into today’s Champions League quarterfinal on the Camp Nou with a defense in disaster. Diego Godín and José Giménez have anchored arguably the first-class principal defensive partnership in Europe over the past yr, however both had been laid up with injuries weeks ago. Their maximum capable substitute, Stefan Savić, has additionally been nursing a muscle injury, and didn’t play these days. Godín made a late recuperation, but Atléti still trotted out a 20-12 months-antique and a man who hasn’t played in three weeks in opposition to the excellent trio of attacking players inside the international.
On the opposite stop became a bloodthirsty Barcelona group, wounded for the primary time in a long time after the weekend defeat to real Madrid and hellbent on placing the report immediately. They have been worn-out, without a doubt, as worn-out as they looked for the very last half-hour of the Clásico, however and not using a soft factor lead to excuse a much less-than-invested performance, Atlético could face the full brunt of Barça’s maximum encouraged efforts, even if the ones efforts weren’t in top form.
And, somehow, it almost worked. Twenty-5 mins into the sport, Koke slipped a ball to Fernando Torres, who break up Dani Alves and Javier Mascherano, then threaded it via Marc-André ter Stegen’s legs.
All Atlético needed to do for the last sixty five mins turned into guard; which, yes, is like announcing all Ernest Shackleton needed to do changed into take a ship experience, but Atléti have demonstrated a nigh-impossible group to break down and rating on. They’ve most effective allowed 15 dreams this yr in los angeles Liga, and earlier than this afternoon, had only permit in 3 goals in all 8 in their Champions League games.
Atlético don’t have Barcelona’s number, due to the fact no one has their wide variety, but it wasn’t unrealistic to suppose that they may fluster and kick Messi and co. Round for an hour. Hell, 1-1 on the road might had been a extra-than-acceptable end result. Basically all they needed to do was keep away from, say, a first half crimson card. What’s that you say?
Damnit. Torres, in triumphing the tight contest of former Liverpool strikers trying their best to lose their heads, price Atlético their vital ability to press Barcelona again faraway from the final third, wherein, given time, they can choose any opponent to demise. Atlético fought valiantly, spending most of the day with literally all ten men within whispering distance of Jan Oblak in purpose, however Barça’s onslaught subsequently, necessarily, broke them. After bumbling his way into the opener, Luis Suárez killed Atlético with a bullet header.
Now, 2-1 is in no manner a terrible result for Atlético. If Savić is healthful next week, and Diego Simeone can locate the proper forward to replace Torres (and it higher be Ángel Correa), getting a 1-0 win isn’t not possible. It’s not in all likelihood, of route, however nobody performs Barcelona harder than Atlético. With protecting like this from these days, inclined their bodies or even the woodwork into keeping out an absolutely rampant Barcelona facet, you could in no way count on all and sundry will rating in opposition to them
If Barcelona increase and Atlético can’t cling, I don’t assume everybody will forestall them for the relaxation of the Champions League. Between the celestial chemistry in their front 3 and the range of their midfield, Barcelona look like they’ll be too much to address for any crew that doesn’t have a returned line as suitable as Atlético’s. Bayern are going through a health crisis of their very own, PSG start David Luiz, and, c’mon, real Madrid suck this 12 months.
Barcelona haven’t been held scoreless seeing that January 2, so simplest a fool might sincerely prefer Atlético heading into subsequent Wednesday’s meeting. But no other team offers them the type of problems Atléti does, and this is probably the rest of the european football global’s excellent risk to forestall a Champions League repeat.