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Barça have suffered their first defeat of the La Liga 2021/22, and it came at the hands of the defending champions Atlético Madrid.
First half goals from Thomas Lemar and former Camp Nou darling Luis Suárez dealt the damage in the first half, and despite the Catalans making every effort to mount a comeback in the second, the mattress-makers proved too solid to break down.
Lemar and Suárez
Both sides started brightly and neither had a full grip on an enticing game when Atlético broke the deadlock on 23 minutes. João Félix, exceptional today, was given a little too much room down the left, and Suárez was able to set up Lemar for the opener.
Barça responded well to the setback, but push as they did, the real chances were few and far between.
And the task was made all the more harder when the home side doubled their lead just before the break. Again it started down the left, and again it involved Suárez and Lemar only this time the other way round.
The Uruguayan, who’d squandered one chance just moments earlier, collected well in space and converted expertly. A painful blow for Barça was made all the more painful by the fact that the man delivering it was a former blaugrana hero, but all credit to Suárez for not celebrating and putting his hands together in the form of an apology instead.
Impressively, Atlético have never dropped league points under Diego Simeone when they have led by two goals. So Barça were going to need to find something special to turn this one around. They needed to play all the football and they did, but they still weren’t stirring enough trouble in the final third.
Philippe Coutinho, who’d had the best two chances thus far, was replaced by Ansu Fati, whose dosage of minutes is getting bigger every time. On the other side, Suárez was relieved by another familiar face – Antoine Griezmann now back wearing red and white.
Jan Oblak was on course to become the first goalkeeper to keep three consecutive clean sheets against Barça this century. Barça had to make sure that didn’t happen.
But the second half produced very little in the way of real action. Atlético were happy enough the way things were... while things just weren’t happening for Barça. Half chance after half chance, but this was going to be Atlético’s game.
An international break means there’s no club football for a fortnight, after which Barça will be back with Valencia coming to Camp Nou on October 17.
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