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Here’s our round-up of bits and bobs that got us talking here in the offices while enjoying an absolutely cracking game between Atlético Madrid and Barça, decided in superlative fashion by Messi’s late winner.
Safe as houses
Marc Andre Ter Stegen produced two reflex saves in the first half that were up there with his very best. Both were certain goals, first for Mario Hermoso and then for Álvaro Morata. Messi’s goal might be what steals the headlines in tomorrow’s papers, but if it hadn’t been for the German keeper, the story could have been very different.
Weathering the storm
It has happened time and time again. This was yet another game where Barça were under constant pressure for the first half hour or so. Like a champion boxer, they endured the early pounding, with Sergi Roberto particularly commendable for his defensive contributions. Some might say Atlético deserved more, but perhaps Barça knew what they were doing. They never panicked, as if waiting for the right time to start launching offensives of their own. And when they did, they had the fresher legs and were the better team. And ultimately wound up worthy winners.
Clothing also played a prominent part in today’s game. The players looked absolutely dashing in their new Thom Browne pregame uniforms, causing quite a stir on social media. And once on the pitch, we got to see them for the first time in the yellow strip in the design of the Catalan flag, the senyera. It’s not just Barça’s football that looks amazing.
The record at Atlético continues
Los colchoneros are one of the biggest sides not just in Spain, but in the world. Which makes Barça’s recent league form against them all the more extraordinary. That’s now 19 consecutive games unbeaten (home and away), covering the entire Diego Simeone era.
Full house for Messi
The Wanda Metropolitan, opened in 2017, was the only top flight stadium where Messi had yet to score a league goal (although he did one against Sevilla in the Copa del Rey Final two years ago). That’s all twenty now conquered on the day that he also scored his 700th career goal (counting those from youth to senior level for Argentina too). We should be impressed, but Messi milestones happen so often that they are almost becoming routine. Simply incredible.
Back on top
Had the game ended 0-0, Real Madrid would have ended the weekend first in the league following their 2-1 win at Alavés. But Barça are still top of the pile on goal difference, with Sevilla, who beat Leganés 1-0, just a point behind but after playing one more game. Atlético have now fallen to sixth, below the Basque duo of Real Sociedad and Athletic Club. A win today would have put them level with Barça. Instead they are now six adrift.
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