opinions | 2016-09-21
Match Report - Barcelona 1:1 Atlético Madrid - Luck is believing you are lucky
When dropped points are the least you're worrying about, you know Barça had a bad night
The long expected match vs Atlético Madrid turned into a duel to the death after three dropped points at home vs Alavés in our worst defeat at home since that one vs Hércules, with Mascherano making mistakes on both contests. Real Madrid opened three points to the top after three rounds and dropping more was out of the question for a team that proved to be more irritated by losing three points than the fans themselves. Lucky us, Real Madrid played two hours earlier, missed opportunities and ended up with a single point at home vs Villarreal. So we had thought...
It’s hard not to take this match as a wasted opportunity by Barcelona: Atlético Madrid were far from their utmost best; Iniesta was in one of those days he is the best on pitch even with Messi present; Piqué and Mascherano were working together like we didn't miss Umtiti at all; Sergi Roberto stood out as more than a right back with his runs and incisive interceptions; and Rakitic had scored a crucial header just before half time in what was still a fantastic performance by the Croat. Then came the second half.
Then came the tide of misfortune.
One of the unluckiest Barcelona matches I watched in nearly two decades as a fan. And the worst since the tie vs Chelsea in 2012, can’t be defined other than the stuff of nightmares.
Umtiti had picked up an injury on training for the first time in his career, putting a break on his tremendous form since joining from Lyon; Busquets caught the flu and had to be subbed off in the second half; Messi got injured on the groin again, set to miss three weeks of action or more, and he was subbed off to the lament of the entire stadium that sang his name; if that wasn’t enough, after a naïve foul by Barça a fickle attempt by Torres hit Piqué and Mascherano stumbled, leading to Correa’s goal.
The team only looked shaken for a few minutes before pumping forward with intent, Neymar stepped up to create chances, André Gomes performed well playing deeper and didn’t cause Barça problems at the back or when going forward, but the damage was done and we couldn’t score another goal that could’ve made it a memorable night against all odds, much like the Spanish Cup vs Gameiro’s Sevilla a few months back.
I have a single question for Luis Enrique, why didn’t he sub Alcácer on when Barça needed that extra man upfront and insisted on Arda Turan playing on the right, where he’s clearly uncomfortable and lackluster, instead of putting Sergi Roberto there and playing with a back three like vs Leganés? A missed opportunity for the fourth man to prove himself, confident he would’ve added rather than subtracted. That the only aspect that wasn’t down to luck that frustrated me tonight.
Now for the positives. Piqué was one of the best on pitch and he will become one of the best centre back partnerships in the world with Umtiti, that I have no doubt. Geri won’t have to cover for Mascherano anymore, Sergi Roberto will continue his wonderful form and Alba seems to be slowly improving when going forward. Big news for our backline.
We could’ve been a point behind Real Madrid, but it’s three all over again. I’m still confident that without fortune our main rivals won’t be able to resist for the entire season at the top, but considering how’s 2016 is treating them and how unlucky we were tonight, I hope 2017 brings better tidings.
Anything wrong? Send your correction.
WRITTEN BY: Rafael Hernández
A die hard Barcelona fan since the Joan Gaspart years, Rafael has seen the best and worst of his club. One of the Grup 14 founders, currently overlooking and coordinating the group's strategy. Rafael’s also a football journalist and entrepreneur.