Atletico Madrid 2-0 Barcelona: Key Talking Points As The Champions Pile More Pressure On Ronald Koem
Managing to snatch that controversial late winner on Champions League duties in midweek, Atletico Madrid kept up that momentum with what turned into a routine display on Saturday night.
Backed by a packed Wanda Metropolitano for the first time in over a year, the defending Spanish champions picked up a deserved 2-0 victory against what was a downbeat Barcelona side.
With their sights firmly set on retaining their La Liga crown this season, Los Colchoneros wrapped up Saturday’s showdown thanks to a pair of first-half strikes from Thomas Lemar and a free-scoring Luis Suarez.
Now with just their goal difference keeping them off the top of the table, we have taken a look at the key talking points as Atletico laid down a marker in the capital.
Simeone now seeking stability
Shocking many across Spain last weekend as Atletico were hit with a 1-0 loss away at Alaves, there is no doubt that Diego Simeone would have been hugely relieved to see his side make an immediate return to winning ways.
Eventually managing to snatch a last-gasp 2-1 victory against a 10-man AC Milan earlier in the week, the defending Spanish champions put in a largely rugged display on home soil.
Overcoming what was a lively start from Saturday’s guests, Thomas Lemar’s thumping finish across Marc-André ter Stegen after 23 minutes really helped Atletico find their rhythm.
Despite finishing their 2-0 victory with just 30% possession to their name, Simeone was quick to praise his side’s display in what was a trademark performance from Atletico at the Wanda Metropolitano.
Hardly having to get out of third gear for much of the second-half, Simeone will be calling for
his side to find some stability when they return from the international break later in the month.
Managing to record just their third La Liga victory from their previous six appearances on Saturday night, Simeone certainly got the response he would have been hoping for.
Suarez gets one over on his former boss
Converting that last-gasp penalty at the San Siro as Atletico snatched a comeback Champions League victory in midweek, Luis Suarez would have been desperate to get one over on his former boss here.
Exactly 12 months on since Ronald Koeman phoned the former Liverpool star to inform him that he was not part of his plans, Suarez had the last laugh as he only piled more pressure onto the one-time Southampton manager.
While the 34-year-old might have missed a golden chance as he swept his effort the wrong side of Ter Stegen’s post, he didn’t have to wait much longer for another chance to fall his way.
Pouncing on some dreadful defending from his former club and played through following Lemar’s squared pass, Suarez slipped the ball into the far corner and almost wrapped up the three points for Saturday’s hosts.
Aiming his celebration at Koeman after finding the net seconds before the interval, Atletico’s attacking talisman was given a standing ovation after being replaced late into the second-half.
Where does Koeman go from here?
Putting in what was a nightmare display as they were hit with a 3-0 drumming away at Benfica on Champions League duties in midweek, all eyes from across Europe remain on what the future holds for Barca’s under-pressure boss.
While the former Everton boss might have been given a public backing by club president Joan Laporta prior to Saturday’s 2-0 defeat, it is hard to see where Koeman goes from here.
Despite opening proceedings at the Wanda Metropolitano with an early flurry, the fading European giants failed to gain any real foothold and didn’t ask any major questions of Jan Oblak’s goal.
With Philippe Coutinho missing Barcelona’s only real chance as the Slovenian shot-stopper denied the one-time Liverpool man with half an hour left to play, the Catalonia outfit are in the midst of what has become a real nightmare.
With Koeman having to watch from the stands and constantly cutting a frustrated figure, Saturday’s guests have now managed to win just one of their last five matchups across all formats.
Now in a real uphill battle if they’re to secure a spot in the knockout stage of this year’s Champions League, continued links to the likes of Andrea Pirlo will only be intensified after another toothless display in the capital.
Atletico Madrid: Oblak (7), Savic (7.5), Giménez (8), Hermoso (6), Koke (7), Llorente (6.5), De Paul (5), Lemar (9), Carrasco (6), Suarez (8.5), Felix (9)
Subs: Felipe (6), Trippier (7), Lodi dos Santos (6), Griezmann (6), Correa (6)
Barcelona: Ter Stegen (6), Mingueza (5), Araujo (3), Pique (5.5), Dest (3), González Iglesias (4), Busquets (5), F. De Jong (5.5), Coutinho (4), Paez Gaviria (4), Depay (7)
Subs: Roberto (5.5), Lenglet (N/A), Fati (6), Puig Martí (5), L. De Jong (4)
Goals: Lemar 23, Suarez 44′
Yellow Cards: Atletico Madrid: Koke, De Paul – Barcelona: Paez Gaviria
Red Cards: N/A
Referee: César Soto Grado
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