Five talking points from FC Barcelona 1-0 Atlético Madrid
The centre back, the midfield, Ter Stegen, Messi and the fans were all factors that helped win the quarter final first leg
11:00PM Tuesday 20 Jan
Ter Stegen: The German stopper has kept clean sheets in all of his four cup appearances. Against Atlético he didn’t have to make any decisive saves but he looked secure every time the ball came near him. And where Ter Stegen once again showed class was with his footwork. His passes found their targets from 40 metres whether he hit them with his right or his left foot. And that went a long way to dispelling the Atlético pressure.
Atmosphere: It was one of the coldest nights of the year and the game kicked off at ten in the evening, but 62,225 spectators still turned out to root for their team. The songs, chanting and cheering didn’t cease for 90 minutes, and the way the fans showed their support for Luis Suárez after he squandered an opportunity was just the kind of positivity a team needs from its followers. Luis Enrique mentioned before the game how important it is for the fans to be there for the team on nights like this, and they responded to his call in style.
Piqué-Mascherano: A great night for the two centre backs. Torres was always dangerous against Barça, but he barely got a look-in tonight. They also closed down his replacement Mandzukic and coped with Griezmann’s speed. Piqué was particularly providential when he prevented Torres and Griezmann from launching a potentially fatal counter attack after 38 minutes.
Messi: The best player in the world has scored 383 goals in official matches for Barça and can always be called upon to deliver in times of need. No player was applauded more than him this evening, he was willing to take responsibilities when required and he scored once again, albeit with a certain element of suspense! But it’s not just his goals. His passing this evening was superb.
Rakitic-Iniesta: Luis Enrique took off Iniesta and Rakitic towards the end of the game and they both got a standing ovation. And they fully deserved it. They fought for every ball and were the source of almost every Barça attack. And Iniesta, captaining the side, was able to delight the crowd with one of his impossible moves, executed with the elegance of a true great.