Messi 7/10, Griezmann 5/10 as Barcelona fail to boost La Liga hopes with a draw with Atletico
Barcelona and Atletico Madrid drew 0-0 at Camp Nou on Saturday to give Real Madrid the edge in the La Liga title race.
Atletico remain in the lead for the time being but will be replaced by Madrid if Zinedine Zidane’s side beat Sevilla on Sunday. Barca remain two points behind Atletico with just three games.
Both teams had to thank their goalkeepers for the result on Saturday. Marc-Andre ter Stegen scored a series of saves in the first half to keep Barca in the game while Jan Oblak made two good stops to keep Lionel Messi away. Substitute Ousmane Dembele had a great chance of winning for the home team late but the Frenchman headed from just six meters away when he was not marked.
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Barca’s title hopes hang by a thread, but they’re not dead. Not yet, anyway. They now need both Atletico and Madrid to either lose a game or draw two of their remaining three if they are to win the title. It’s unlikely, but not impossible.
Barca broke their head-to-head record against Diego Simeone’s side in a draw with Atletico this season. This is the tiebreaker in case two teams finish the campaign with the same points. That means Barca will have to collect more points than Atletico and Madrid to land over them. This could be the key to such an even battle for the top spot.
Barca’s first half was particularly bad, possibly affected by a head injury to Sergio Busquets, who was hospitalized after a head fight with Stefan Savic. They were cut open way too easily, gave a ton of opportunities and, aside from a moment of Messi brilliance, didn’t create anything suitable for a team allegedly fighting to win the league.
Manager rating of 10
5 – Koeman served the second part of a two-game touchline ban but he still carries the can for Barca’s first-half game. Also, given Barca’s position in the league, there is an argument that he should have been more aggressive later on.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes are not rated)
GK Marc-Andre ter Stegen, 8 – The German goalkeeper parried six times in the first half and was the loudest voice on the pitch when it came to organizing the defense.
DF Oscar Mingueza, 5 – Fought the talented Yannick Carrasco and paid the price by getting it lifted for Ronald Araujo during the break.
DF Gerard Pique, 6 – Saw a good chance Oblak saved and shortly afterwards, at the other end, made a great interception to stop the galivant Carrasco. Had looked sluggish up until then.
DF Clement Lenglet, 5 – Angel Correa was decisively blocked in the first half. He took the ball off Araujo’s head in the second half as the Uruguayan scored a sure goal and prepared Luis Suarez with a cut.
MF Sergino Dest, 6 – Started well and had the beating from Mario Hermoso but didn’t present the ongoing right-hand threat that was needed.
Lionel Messi has the best chances for Barcelona but could not bring out what would have been an important goal for the title hopefuls. Getty
MF Frenkie de Jong, 7- Worked hard and carried the ball forward a lot but couldn’t take positions to hurt Atletico in the final third.
MF Sergio Busquets, 6 – It became clear how much order he was giving Barcelona when he was sent off with a head injury in the 32nd minute.
MF Pedri, 6 – Saw a lot of the ball but couldn’t work its magic between the lines. Good cross for the Araujo goal, which was excluded because of offside.
MF Jordi Alba, 6 – Fought to find plenty of room on the left but produced a great cross to take advantage of the late Dembele chance.
FW Lionel Messi, 7 – Even with Barca on his back foot, he scored the best moment of the game, beating six Atletico players before seeing the brilliant Oblak shoot his shot wide. The Slovenian later saved well after a Messi free kick.
FW Antoine Griezmann, 5 – Didn’t give Messi enough support in the final third as his only chances for Oblak were easy.
MF Ilaix Moriba, 6 – Replaced the injured Busquets for the last hour, minutes that will benefit his development enormously.
DF Ronald Araujo, 6 – Helped make Barca more solid at the back and was a threat in scheduled games when he scored a goal that was excluded for offside.
MF Sergi Roberto, N / R – Came for Pedri but didn’t add much.
FW Ousmane Dembele, N / R – It made a difference as he continued with his pace and directness, but what will be remembered on his late miss.