MX23RW : Monday, June 14 17:59:19| >> :60:1139:1139:
Jan 30, 2016 at 3pm UK at Camp Nou
Barcelona
2-1
AtleticoAtletico Madrid
Messi (30'), Suarez (38')
FT(HT: 2-1)
Koke (10')
Luis (44'), Godin (65')

Live Commentary: Barcelona 2-1 Atletico Madrid - as it happened

Relive Sports Mole's live commentary of the La Liga clash between Barcelona and nine-man Atletico Madrid at Camp Nou, which ended in a 2-1 home win.
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First met second in La Liga on Saturday afternoon as Barcelona welcomed Atletico Madrid to Camp Nou.

It was the visitors that took a 10th-minute lead through Koke, but Barcelona were on level terms in the 30th minute when Lionel Messi found the bottom corner from inside the box, before Luis Suarez sent the home side ahead in the 38th minute.

That was not where the first-half action ended, however, with Atletico reduced to 10 men in the 44th minute when Filipe Luis put in a late challenge on Messi.

The visitors then went down to nine in the 65th minute when Diego Godin picked up a second yellow, allowing Barcelona to close out the game for all three points.

Read how it all unfolded in Sports Mole's minute-by-minute live commentary of the action below.


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Afternoon all! Sports Mole's live La Liga coverage continues from Camp Nou and it is a big one as Barcelona welcome Atletico Madrid. These two sides sit first and second respectively in Spain's top flight and both have collected 48 points this term. Barcelona, however, still have a game in hand – against struggling Sporting Gijon – and therefore still have an advantage at the summit. These two giants of Spanish football meet once again and you can follow all the action right here!

Kickoff is not actually for another two hours, but there is plenty to discuss in the build-up to 3pm, while the team news is expected to land in just under an hour. The outcome of this match will not decide the league title – far from it – but there is no down-playing its importance. Real Madrid will also have a keen eye as they prepare for at least one of these teams to drop points.

You could be forgiven for thinking that Atletico's success over the last few seasons translates into a strong record against Barcelona, but that is just not the case. In fact, Barcelona have gone 11 league games since losing to Atletico – winning nine times in the process. What's more, Barcelona have not lost any of their last nine at home to Atletico in the league and have scored an average of 3.44 goals per game.

Atletico have fond memories of Camp Nou, however, having claimed a 1-1 draw at the end of the 2013-14 season to win the La Liga title. Barcelona have won all five of their meetings since then though, including a 2-1 victory at the Vicente Calderon in the league earlier this season. Fernando Torres opened the scoring for the hosts, but Neymar and Lionel Messi hit back for the Catalan outfit.

Diego Godin of Club Atletico de Madrid celebrates after scoring his goal during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and Club Atletico de Madrid at Camp Nou on May 17, 2014© Getty Images


It is worth remembering that the head-to-head record stands in Spain over goal difference when the points are level and Atletico will be keen to put a victory on the board this afternoon. Kickoff is still some way off in Barcelona, but the atmosphere around the stadium is buzzing. Camp Nou is always a special place and you can already sense the importance of this game to the supporters!

Right, let's take a closer look at how each team has fared in the league this season, starting with Barcelona. Luis Enrique's side have won 15 of their 20 league games, drawing three times and losing just twice. That has left them top of the division on 48 points and as mentioned, they still have a game in hand over both Atletico and Real Madrid due to their involvement in the Club World Cup.

Goals scored? Fifty. Goals conceded? Sixteen. They have netted six fewer than third-place Real Madrid in Spain's top flight this season, but it is worth remembering that they have played a game less, while Real Madrid hit 10 against Rayo Vallecano to make their total a little lop-sided. Just 16 goals conceded is the second-best defensive record in the division behind Atletico.

Barcelona are not a team that struggle to score goals and the Catalan outfit have won 16 of their last 18 home league matches – netting an average of 3.44 goals per game. There is no question that Luis Enrique has improved the team defensively since taking charge, but they still make mistakes. That said, they can afford mistakes when they have such talent in the final third of the field.

Off the top of your head, think of the best five players in world football... done it? Right... Lionel Messi, check. Cristiano Ronaldo, check. Neymar, check. Luis Suarez, check. The fifth? That is open for discussion. However, there is little doubting that Barcelona have three of the best four players in world football in their front-line. The 'MSN' have been just sensational for the Catalan side.

Neymar (C) of FC Barcelona celebrates with his teammates Luis Suarez (L) and Lionel Messi of FC Barcelonaa after scoring his team's third goal of FC Barcelonaduring the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and Real Sociedad de Futbol at Camp Nou on November© Getty Images



Messi has scored 20 times in 25 appearances this season, including 11 strikes in 15 league matches. Neymar has 21 goals in 26 appearances, including 16 in 17 in the league, while Suarez has 30 goals in 31 appearances, netting 18 in 19 matches in the league. Messi is Messi, Neymar is fast becoming the best player in the world and Suarez cannot stop scoring. Sounds pretty good then!

Messi (three), Neymar (two) and Suarez (one) have also scored the last six league goals for Barcelona against Atletico and as mentioned, Messi and Neymar scored the goals at the Calderon earlier this season to help the Catalan outfit record all three points. Just how Atletico deal with the sensational front three this afternoon will have a huge bearing on the final result.

Barcelona might be excellent in the final third, but Atletico are so strong defensively. Incredibly, Diego Simeone's side have only conceded eight times in their 21 league matches this season, which is an indication of just how difficult they have been to break down. Jan Oblak has thrived between the sticks after taking the gloves from Miguel Moya, while Juanfran, Diego Godin, Jose Gimenez and Filipe Luis have been excellent as the back four. They are just such a well-drilled team.

It is just as well that Atletico have been so strong at the back because the goals have not exactly flowed down the other end. Jackson Martinez has been a big disappointment, while Luciano Vietto and Fernando Torres have struggled for consistency this term. Only Antoine Griezmann can seriously say that he has pulled his weight in the final third of the field for the capital side.

Indeed, without Griezmann, Atletico would not be where they are in the table, it is as simple as that. The Frenchman has scored 19 goals in 30 appearances this season, including 12 in 21 games in the league. Atletico have only scored 30 times in the top flight this term, which is not even close to being the third-best attacking record in the division behind Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Antoine Griezmann celebrates scoring during the Copa del Rey game between Atletico Madrid and Celta Vigo on January 27, 2016© Getty Images


Celta Vigo, Eibar and Athletic Bilbao have all scored more league goals than Atletico this season, but they are not sitting in second place. Simeone's side have won 15 of their 21 league matches, drawing three times and losing three. Barcelona's game in hand is against struggling Sporting Gijon, however, and therefore they might consider themselves to be three points off the summit.

BREAKING TEAM NEWS! The Barcelona team news has reached us and Jordi Alba has been declared fit to return from a hamstring problem at left-back. Dani Alves is chosen ahead of Aleix Vidal at right-back, while Ivan Rakitic will start alongside Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta in the middle of the park. Neymar has also shaken off a slight problem to start alongside Messi and Suarez in attack.

TEAMS:

BARCA: Bravo; Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Alba; Busquets, Iniesta, Rakitic; Messi, Suarez, Neymar

ATLETI: To follow.


Atletico, who are yet to provide their team news, would have entered this match top of the table had they beaten Sevilla at home in the league last weekend, but the capital side were held to a 0-0 draw. It was also a miserable week for Atletico in the Copa del Rey, with Celta Vigo winning 3-2 at the Calderon to advance into the semi-finals. That's right – Atletico conceded three goals on home soil!

CONFIRMED TEAMS:

BARCA: Bravo; Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Alba; Busquets, Iniesta, Rakitic; Messi, Suarez, Neymar

ATLETI: Oblak; Juanfran, Godin, Gimenez, Luis; Gabi, Augusto, Koke; Saul, Griezmann, Carrasco


So there we have it. The Atletico news is in! Just the one change from the team that drew with Sevilla last weekend and it comes in attack as Yannick Ferreira Carrasco replaces Luciano Vietto, who has dropped to the bench alongside Jackson Martinez. As expected, Jose Gimenez is chosen ahead of Stefan Savic at centre-back, while Gabi, Koke and Augusto Fernandez start in midfield.

Yannick Carrasco of Atletico de Madrid celebrates scoring their second goal during the La Liga amtch between Club Atletico de Madrid and Valencia CF at Vicente Calderon Stadium on October 25, 2015© Getty Images


I have already spoken about the Barcelona team, with the main news being a return for Spanish international Jordi Alba at left-back. Arda Turan had been expected to miss out on a place on the bench due to injury, but the Turkish international has been named in the squad. On paper, this is Barcelona's strongest starting side. In truth, there are no major surprises in either XI here.

While Atletico were eliminated from the Copa del Rey during the week, holders Barcelona marched on to the final with a 3-1 home win over Bilbao, which made it 5-2 on aggregate. Bilbao actually took the lead at Camp Nou on Wednesday and dominated the opening half, but Barcelona emerged for the second half a completely different team and played some wonderful stuff to make the final four.

Replicating their treble from last season is a long way off for Barcelona, but would it be that much of a surprise if they managed to claim all three trophies once again? They are now the big favourites to win the Copa due to the elimination of both Real Madrid and Atletico, while they will fancy their chances of beating Arsenal when the Champions League returns next month.

Luis Suarez celebrates getting his brace with Neymar during the game between Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao on January 17, 2016© Getty Images


Atletico, on the other hand, might not see their Copa elimination as the end of the world. Simeone, although he will not admit it, is desperate to challenge for the league title again this season, while the capital club are again among the dark horses for the Champions League. One thing is for certain, both Barcelona and Atletico are two of the finest teams in the world of football.

Atletico, of course, won the La Liga title in the 2013-14 campaign, but in truth, they just did not challenge last season. Simeone's side ultimately ended the year in third position in the table, some 16 points off the eventual winners Barcelona. It was not a particularly strong title defence, but Atletico have shown that they are ready to challenge Spain's big two once again, that is for sure.

The target for Barcelona to beat is 94 points, but that leaves them with hardly any room for error over the next couple of months. That said, you have to go back to the start of October to find the last time that Barcelona were beaten in any competition – a 2-1 defeat to Sevilla in the league. Since then, they have played 25 times, recording 20 wins and five draws. Wonderful form!

That sensational run of form, as mentioned, has taken them into the Copa del Rey final, into the knockout stage of the Champions League and seen them win the Club World Cup. Victory this afternoon would move them three points clear of Atletico in La Liga, still with a game in hand, and seven points ahead of Real Madrid, who do not play until tomorrow evening - at home to Espanyol.

Atletico, however, can take some heart from the fact that Barcelona dropped points in three of their four league games between December 5 and January 2. That run included draws against Valencia, Deportivo and Espanyol, but since drawing with their Catalan rivals, they have thumped both Granada and Bilbao at home, and recorded a 2-1 win at Malaga last time out.

Barcelona's coach Luis Enrique shouts from the sidelines during the Spanish league football match FC Barcelona vs SD Eibar at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on October 25, 2015© Getty Images


Indeed, Barcelona were far from their best away to Malaga last weekend, but a wonderful second-half volley from Messi saw them claim all the points. If Barcelona do manage to beat Atletico this afternoon then it is difficult to predict when their next defeat would come. After this one, they travel to basement side Levante and then have league games against Celta Vigo, Sporting Gijon and Las Palmas. Indeed, Barcelona do not face Real Madrid at Camp Nou until the start of April.

Real Madrid, and indeed their supporters, would never admit it, but they will be hoping for an Atletico victory in this match. Los Blancos will fancy their chances of clawing back some ground on Atletico as the season enters its latter stages, but it is difficult to imagine them closing a seven-point gap on a Barcelona team that are just not dropping points. I cannot see it myself!

Atletico, meanwhile, are currently on a five-game unbeaten run in the league since losing at Malaga before the winter break in Spain. That run of form has seen them beat Rayo Vallecano, Levante, Celta Vigo and Las Palmas, but as mentioned, they could only draw with an improving Sevilla team last time out, which allowed Barcelona to enter this match top of the division.

Speaking of Atletico and their incredible defence – they have not conceded a single goal in their last five league games and have let in just two goals in their last 11 games in the top flight, which is stunning. You sense that they will need to keep a clean sheet if they are to secure a positive result this afternoon because their attack does not always inspire confidence.

Diego Godin is violated from all angles during the game between Celta Vigo and Atletico Madrid on January 10, 2016© AFP



PREDICTION! I have changed my mind on a few occasions, but I am going to settle on a narrow Barcelona win. It would not surprise me one bit if Atletico took something from this match, but I look at the two sides and I am just leaning towards a home win. Score prediction? 2-1 Barcelona.

Well, we started the build-up at 1pm - two hours from kickoff. Where has the time gone? We are almost ready for the action and there is just no downplaying the importance of this match. It will be fascinating to see just how both sides approach the opening 15, 20 minutes at Camp Nou.

A reminder of the two teams for this afternoon...

BARCA: Bravo; Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Alba; Busquets, Iniesta, Rakitic; Messi, Suarez, Neymar

ATLETI: Oblak; Juanfran, Godin, Gimenez, Luis; Gabi, Augusto, Koke; Saul, Griezmann, Carrasco


KICKOFF! It is the biggest game of the season so far in Spain's top flight and as expected, there is an excellent atmosphere inside the stadium. You just get the feeling that the first goal - if there indeed is one - could be vital in terms of the outcome. The hosts kick things off here...

... as expected, the home side have taken control of the possession in the opening couple of minutes, with Alves and Pique both having early touches at the back. Atletico will be more than prepared to sit in and absorb the danger and the visitors have a lot of pace in the final third here.

SAVE! Atletico come close to opening the scoring as Saul works a yard of space outside the box before bending one towards the top corner, but Bravo flies across to tip wide!

It has been a smart start from Atletico, who continue to press high up the field. Pique has two players on him when he collects off Bravo and is eventually forced to just clear down the left.

Barcelona have been passing and probing outside the Atletico box in the last couple of minutes, but the visitors are so well-drilled at the back that there are just no gaps in the final third. Atletico will want to get through the opening 20, 25 minutes here without conceding, that is for sure.

Both teams are just sizing each other up at the moment. Almost like two poker players that are not sure where they are in the hand. It is a match of give and take at the moment, cat and mouse.

GOAL! Barcelona 0-1 Atletico (Koke)

Atletico make the breakthrough at Camp Nou as Koke arrives unmarked inside the Barcelona box before placing his low strike into the bottom corner. Where was the marking? It was a smart cross from the left, with Saul delivering, and Koke had the simple task of directing the ball home!

Neymar attempts to drive Barcelona forward down the left, but the Brazilian loses possession and is then penalised for a foul on Gabi. Atletico are very confident at the moment here.

It has been a strong response from the home side as Neymar and Suarez link in the final third, but the return pass is just too strong and Atletico once again have a goal kick. All happening!

Neymar has been Barcelona's main threat in the opening 17 minutes, but we have not seen too much from Messi and Suarez in the final third. Atletico are leaving both Carrasco and Griezmann up the field, which is forcing the home side to leave at least three players back to defend.

CHANCE! Alves hammers a volley towards the bottom corner, but Gimenez is on hand to make a wonderful block. It has been a decent response from Barcelona since conceding to Koke.

Atletico have just managed to regain control of the ball in the last couple of minutes and the visitors are threatening each time they break into the final third. Augusto Fernandez steps forward for the capital side before striking towards the bottom corner, but his effort is wide.

Saul, Carrasco and Griezmann are causing this Barcelona defence all sorts of problems with their movement and inter-changing work in the final third. The visitors have had the chance to threaten from a couple of corners in the last few moments, but Barcelona have defended it well.

BOOKING! Godin (Atletico) is booked for a late challenge on Suarez.

BOOKING! Gabi (Atletico) is now booked for a foul on Rakitic.

Messi is standing over a free kick outside the Atletico box...

... Messi's effort curls towards the far post, but was always moving wide.

Godin, who else, has made a couple of vital clearances in the last couple of minutes as Barcelona continue to pass and probe outside the Atletico box. Still 1-0 to the visitors here.

CHANCE! Barcelona's best chance of the match so far falls to Suarez, but the striker cannot beat Oblak from close range. The big stopper got a strong hand to the strike!

GOAL! Barcelona 1-1 Atletico (Messi)

Barcelona level the scores in the 30th minute as Alba sets up Messi, who drills his effort into the bottom corner. It was a smart pick-out from Alba and Messi made no mistake inside the box!

Koke has the chance to deliver into the Barcelona box from a free kick, but it is a super defensive header from Pique, who rises above Godin to help his side escape their own box.

Little over 10 minutes of the first period remaining and it has been a super game thus far. Two wonderful teams on display this afternoon, but Barcelona are very much on the front foot now.

Just a reminder that both of these sides would move onto 49 points if the score remained 1-1, but Barcelona would still have a game in hand. I predicted 2-1 to the home side at the start of the match and I still think that will be the case, although it has been much more open than expected!

CHANCE! Carrasco works the ball into Griezmann, who has time and space inside the Barcelona box, but the Frenchman fires over the crossbar! Again poor defending from the hosts!

GOAL! Barcelona 2-1 Atletico (Suarez)

Barca are ahead for the first time this afternoon as Suarez breaks into the Atletico box and the striker makes no mistake as he places the ball through Oblak's legs after out-muscling Gimenez!

The response from Barcelona has been stunning. They are some team.

BOOKING! Juanfran (Atletico) has been booked for a foul on Neymar.

Atletico could do with the half-time break as Barcelona continue to pass and probe in the final third of the field. Simeone needs to get his players in and work on a different tactic!

RED CARD! LUIS!

Atletico are down to 10 men as Luis is given a straight red card for a terrible challenge on Messi! Both sets of players are clashing and Messi is still on the deck - all happening at the moment!

HALF-TIME: Barcelona 2-1 Atletico

So there we have it. The referee brings the first period to a close with Barcelona leading 2-1 courtesy of goals from Messi and Suarez. It was Atletico that opened the scoring in the 10th minute through Koke, but the response from the home side was very impressive. It then got worse for Atletico in the 44th minute when Luis was dismissed for a studs-up tackle on Messi!

STATISTICS! Barcelona have utterly dominated the possession at Camp Nou with 70%, while they have had six attempts - three of which were on target. Atletico, meanwhile, hit the target with two of their five attempts in the first period. As expected, it has been a feisty game in terms of challenges and Luis's red card has been joined by yellows for Atletico Godin, Gabi and Juanfran.

BENCH WATCH! Barcelona have a number of attacking options on their bench this afternoon, with the likes of Munir, Turan and Vidal all capable of making a difference in the final third of the field. Atletico, meanwhile, have options in the shape of Martinez, Oliver Torres and Vietto.

Advantage Barcelona ahead of the second period...

Luis Suarez, Neymar and Lionel Messi celebrate during the Copa del Rey game between Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao on January 27, 2016© AFP


RESTART! Here we go then - both sets of players re-join us on the pitch for the second period. More of the same from the first please! It is Atletico that resume the action at Camp Nou...

... ATLETICO SUB! Jesus Gamez replaces Gabi for the visitors.

No real surprise that Simeone has introduced a defender at the break and Gabi was on a yellow card. Barcelona go with the same XI and will be keen to put this game to bed with another goal.

Atletico really cannot afford to concede another goal - especially early in the half. Barcelona are just in the perfect position, they do not need to force it, but will always create chances due to their quality in the final third. It looks set to be a fascinating second period of action here.

Not an awful lot to report in terms of chances in the early moments of the second period, but Barcelona are in control of the possession. Atletico need some inspiration from somewhere.

Carrasco does well to make ground down the left for the away side, but the Belgian is crowded out at the vital moment and Barcelona manage to move up the field. I suspect Simeone will be considering an out-and-out striker in this half - both Martinez and Vietto are on his bench.

Super defending from Godin as the Atletico centre-back gets down to challenge Suarez, who had again collected a smart pass from Messi. Atletico just cannot afford to concede a third!

Super run from Carrasco as the Belgian breaks into the Barcelona box, but Pique is on hand to make a fine challenge. That was a wonderful turn of speed from the big Spaniard there.

SAVE! Stunning save from Bravo as the Barcelona stopper somehow keeps out a close-range effort from Griezmann, who had met a wonderful cross from Carrasco. Wow!

Atletico seem to have found a second wind here and their threat is coming from both Griezmann and Carrasco, who are causing problems with their pace in the final third. Barcelona are having to do some defending as we prepare to enter the final 30 minutes of this La Liga contest.

We are entering the stage of the match where both teams will be considering changes. There will have to become a point where Simeone sends on either Martinez or Vietto, but he might want to just prevent Barcelona from scoring a third in the next 10 or 15 minutes here.

Barcelona have just become a little sloppy in the last few minutes and that is inviting pressure from Atletico, who have had the chance to threaten from a couple of free kicks in the last 120 seconds or so. Koke again delivers into the box, but Busquets is up to clear down-field.

The home side are not overly concerned with pressing forward at the moment and that is allowing Atletico to push players into the final third. It is just so delicately poised at Camp Nou.

RED CARD! GODIN!

Atletico are now down to nine men as Godin is given his second yellow card for a terrible challenge on Suarez. Oh what is he doing there! Suarez was going nowhere out wide!

BARCELONA SUB! Turan replaces Rakitic.

ATLETICO SUB! Griezmann is replaced by Savic.

Very much a damage limitation exercise for Atletico at the moment now.

As expected, Barcelona have been in control of the possession since Atletico went down to nine men and it seems only a matter of time before they finish this game with another goal. It all started so well for the visitors, but it could not have gone much worse since Messi levelled!

Atletico have managed to press forward in the last couple of minutes, but no chances.

Little over 15 minutes of football remaining and Barcelona still lead 2-1. While the odds are heavily in the favour of Barcelona, the visitors will always have a chance while it remains 2-1.

Fernandez is down for Atletico and might need to be replaced here...

... ATLETICO SUB! Indeed Thomas replaces the stricken Fernandez.

We are back underway following that injury to Fernandez, which looked a nasty one. Atletico are going to be without Godin and Luis through suspension and more than likely Fernandez through injury for the next few weeks. As it stands, it has not been a good afternoon for the capital side.

CHANCE! Turan finds space inside the Atletico box following a super pass from Messi, but the midfielder's effort is just wide of the post. So close to a third goal there!

There is just no attacking threat from Atletico at the moment as Barcelona continue to pass and probe outside the box. Alves goes for the bottom corner, but just misses the post!

BARCELONA SUB! Roberto replaces Alves in Barca's second change.

Can you imagine the reaction inside the stadium if Atletico managed to nick a late equaliser here? Barcelona really need that third goal to just make sure of all the points!

Neymar and Suarez again work it inside the Atletico box, but the ball just goes out and Atletico have a goal kick. Still there is hope of Atletico taking a point from this game late on...

... not an awful lot to report at the moment. Barcelona just keeping control of the ball.

Suarez swings an effort over the crossbar from 20 yards.

Oblak is forward for an Atletico free kick!

Koke delivers, but Bravo eventually claims and that could be that.

We are into the second of three additional minutes here.

Barcelona break forward once again, but Turan is flagged offside as we enter the final minute of stoppage time. It seems my pre-match prediction will run true in this match!

FULL-TIME: Barcelona 2-1 Atletico

So there we have it. Barcelona close out the match for a 2-1 win on home soil, which has moved them three points clear of Atletico at the top of the La Liga table and seven clear of third-place Real Madrid. It was an excellent first half, but the match as a contest ended when the visitors went down to nine men! Thanks for joining Sports Mole for the action. Until next time!

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3 38247785384779
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14 38914154657-1141
15 38911182843-1538
16 38911183657-2138
17 38812183455-2136
18 38713183453-1934
19 38516173457-2331
20 38612202952-2330

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