It’s as you were in the Champions League as Barcelona and Atletico Madrid fought out a 1-1 draw at Camp Nou, as predicted earlier on www.laligablog.com.
Diego Simeone’s side are full of confidence, and it showed. They took the game to Barcelona, never giving Tata Martino’s men a chance to get their passing game going. Diego Costa, a slight doubt before the game, was looking a lively threat, but with just under half an hour gone the gamble seemed to have turned sour.
Chelsea target Costa pulled up, with an obvious hamstring injury. Atletico fans will be worriedly waiting for injury updates. It may be some weeks before their 31 goal talisman lines up for their team again. He was replaced by Diego, in his second spell at the club. And it was Diego mark two who left a real impact on the game.
It was nil-nil after an entertaining half, and Barcelona would have expected to turn up the pressure in the second period. But things changed on 56 minutes. Diego was picked out on the right side of the pitch and hit a thumper of a shot past Barcelona keeper Pinto. It was an uncomfortable night for Pinto, in for the injured Valdes, but there was nothing he could do about the goal. It was a deserved lead for Atleti, despite Barca having had more of the possession.
It was backs to the wall for Atleti. Barcelona upped their pace and directness but Messi in particular was cutting a forlorn figure. It would take something special to beat the Atletico defence, and that’s just what happened.
Neymar was played in by Iniesta on 71 minutes. He closed in on goal, before curling a shot exquisitely into the net. Both sides had chances to snatch a victory. The best chance of all came from a superb freekick from Lionel Messi, but keeper of the moment Thibaut Courtois turned it away superbly.
Barcelona and Atletico have played each other four times this season, and every match has ended in a draw. With Atletico’s fantastic record at the Vicente Calderon stadium, they now have to be favourites to progress to the semi-finals. But with Costa out injured, anything could happen.