Atlético de Madrid-FCB: Champions’ Courage wins out (1-2)
Barça fight back to beat Atletico Madrid despite playing with 10 men after Messi injury
Barça celebrated their latest league title with a well earned win at the Vicente Callderon, where the league’s third placed team and finalist in next week’s Cup final received the Champions with a guard of honour. After a pretty placid first half, Atletico went ahead, Barça switched to a three man defence and–reduced to 10 men by an injury to Messi – went for the jugular, scoring twice and showing all the pride and bravery that has helped to make them the league champions once again.
With both their final league positions confirmed, the two teams lacked a bit of tension at the start of the game. With Xavi and Busquets both missing- though with Messi in the starting XI - Barça still managed to dominate possession and territory, as the lively Iniesta launched a series of attacks . There wasn’t much work for the keepers though, as Atletico sat back and soaked up the pressure.
The hosts’ main weapon, Radamel Falcao was being starved of possession and it was Tello who made the two most dangerous chances as the half drew to an end – first when he appeared to be fouled by Godin as he went one-on-one with Courtois and then with a curled shot from the left which just shaved the far post. Between those two chances, Barça had made their first change, as Alves went off with a muscle strain in his lower back.
Hosts score, three man defence and Messi limps off
The second half started with a bit of a mix up in the Barça defence and as the ball bobbled free, Falcao pounced and opened the scoring. Vilanova replied by bringing on Villa and Busquets and switching to a three man back line. Unfortunately, Messi was forced off on 67 minutes and Barça were forced to stage their fight back with just ten men.
Brave fight back
Not even the absence of the world number one could stop Barça tonight though and five minutes later Cesc squared a ball from the right and Alexis wrong footed the keeper for the equaliser. In truth, the winner had an element of luck to it, as Tello reached the bye-line and pulled the ball back for Villa, whose mishit shot rebounded off Gabi and into the net. In the end, though, it was Barça – playing with a man down, who showed the most character and fight to take three more points which simply confirmed their latest league title.