Liga, Atletico Madrid-Barcelona 0-1, goal by Dembélé

The Frenchman decides the big match of the 16th day. Three great interventions by Ter Stegen save the result. Catalans +3 on Real Madrid

“It won’t be decisive, but winning would be a great coup.” All said and done for a Xavi who collects the three points at the Metropolitano after a good hour of fighting against Atletico Madrid. The Catalans capitalized on a good first half hour by packing the final 1-0 thanks to a great play by Pedri and a seal by Dembélé, enough to project Barça three lengths ahead of Real Madrid defeated by Villarreal. If the Catalans are about to escape, the Colchoneros have to digest a gap of 14 points from the top which, today as today, is worth leaving the Champions area to the advantage of Betis.


If Simeone relies on a shrewd 4-4-2 by focusing on the Griezmann-Felix pairing and on the confirmation of Barrios as a midfielder, Xavi does not abandon the traditional 4-3-3 with Pedri in the role of link between midfielder and attack, where Ansu Fati is called to replace the unavailable Lewandowski. An experiment, that of the Catalan technician, dictated by the emergency as well as the one that leads Koundé to preside over the right lane due to the absence of Jordi Alba and the consequent diversion of Balde to the left. The initial feeling is that the Catalans are more on the ball and concentrated, while the Colchoneros concede meters and give something too much due to elementary mistakes.


Many balls lost on the trocar by Simeone’s men, many of which translate into delicious chances for Ansu Fati (stopped twice with a sure shot by Savic and Gimenez) and for a messy version of Dembélé. The Frenchman squandered at least two opportunities by frustrating good game plots, but did not fail in the 22nd minute on an excellent play by Pedri, good at splitting the Colchonera defense centrally before a central discharge for Gavi and Dembélé’s winning right foot on the far post. For the Catalans it is the prize for half an hour played with a good attitude and a discreet rhythm, but for the Cholo band it represents the wake-up call. The “slap” of the French is what the Madrilenians need to get going, albeit late. From that moment, thanks to more effective pressing and a greater push on the side lanes, Atletico Madrid built five chances also clashing against the decisive reflexes of Ter Stegen, who avoided Griezmann’s equalizer before the break with a great flight.


The Colchoneros are also pushing to return to the field, but the entrances of Morata and Kondogbia are not enough to scratch the defensive balance of the guests. The substitutions don’t help Barça either, who lose weight in attack with the relay between Gavi and Kessie, but the obligation to try something different is entirely up to the hosts. The problem, for the Cholo gang, is that the petrol decreases with lucidity and not even Correa’s desire can raise the result in the final. The Catalans struggle to defend the slightest advantage and pull the oars in the boat, but they make full loot even going beyond their own merits. In the 95th minute a miraculous save on the line by Araujo following a sure shot attempt by Griezmann was decisive.


In the lower part of the standings, Jorge Sampaoli’s Sevilla are breathing again, victorious against Getafe thanks to goals from Acuna and Rafa Mir. The Andalusians resisted the final reaction of the Madrilenians (with Borja Mayoral on goal in the 87th minute) and returned to success in the league after six days. The three home points allow Sevilla to climb to fourth from last place ahead of Cadiz, Espanyol and Elche.