MX23RW : Saturday, December 15 23:45:33

Live Commentary: Barcelona 1-0 Atletico Madrid - as it happened

Relive Sports Mole's live coverage of the La Liga clash between Barcelona and Atletico Madrid at Camp Nou, which finished 1-0.
Live Commentary: Barcelona 1-0 Atletico - as it happened
© Offside

Barcelona opened up a eight-point lead at the top of La Liga courtesy of a 1-0 win over second-placed Atletico Madrid at Camp Nou on Sunday afternoon.

Atletico entered the match having won their last matches in all competitions, and a victory for the visitors would have moved them to within two points of the leaders after 27 matches of the 2017-18 campaign.

Lionel Messi's first-half free kick decided the match, however, as Barcelona picked up a huge three points.

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

2.16pmAfternoon all! Sports Mole's live La Liga coverage continues from Camp Nou, and it is a real cracker as league leaders Barcelona welcome second-placed Atletico Madrid. Five points currently separate these two teams in the table, and surely Atletico have to win this afternoon to stand a chance of catching Ernesto Valverde's table-toppers. Stay tuned for the action!

2.19pmAtletico have not actually beaten Barcelona since a 2-0 victory in the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final in April 2016. Since then, the pair have drawn three times and Barcelona have posted two wins. Atletico are without a La Liga victory over the Catalan giants since February 2010, which is quite extraordinary. That said, the pair played out a 1-1 draw in the reverse fixture at Camp Nou last season. There is just no downplaying the importance of this match.

2.22pmRight, without further ado, let me bring you up-to-speed with the all-important team news from Camp Nou. Both teams were in La Liga action during the week – Atletico thumping Leganes 4-0 while Barcelona were held to a 1-1 draw at struggling Las Palmas. Any changes? Let's have a look...


BARCELONA: Ter Stegen; Roberto, Pique, Umtiti, Alba; Coutinho, Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Messi, Suarez

ATLETICO: Oblak; Vrsaljko, Gimenez, Godin, Luis; Saul, Thomas, Gabi, Koke; Griezmann, Costa

2.28pmBarcelona boss Ernesto Valverde has made four changes to the team that drew 1-1 with Las Palmas on Thursday night. Gerard Pique and Jordi Alba return to the back four, while Philippe Coutinho and Ivan Rakitic are back in midfield. Lionel Messi will again join Luis Suarez as part of a front two, with Ousmane Dembele on the bench. The onus will be on Coutinho to make his mark in the number 10 area.

Andres Iniesta celebrates with Lionel Messi after scoring during the La Liga game between Barcelona and Malaga on October 21, 2017© Offside

2.32pmAs for Atletico, there are no surprises in Diego Simeone's XI this afternoon. Antoine Griezmann and Diego Costa will again start as the front two, with a narrow midfield including Koke, Saul Niguez, Thomas Partey and Gabi. Sime Vrsaljko is again preferred to Juanfran at right-back, while a strong bench includes Vitolo, Angel Correa and Kevin Gameiro. Both teams will play versions of a 4-4-2 here.

2.35pmSo there we have it. The two teams are in, and we are now just about 40 minutes from kickoff in Barcelona. I shall speak about the away side a little bit later, but let's start with the hosts. As mentioned, Valverde's side will enter the match off the back of a shock draw at Las Palmas on Thursday night. Messi sent the visitors ahead, but Jonathan Calleri levelled the scores from the penalty spot early in the second period, and that was how it finished in Gran Canaria.


2.42pmBarcelona are still unbeaten in the league this season having won 20 and drawn six of their 26 fixtures, but the gap is down to five points, and there is certainly pressure on the hosts to win this match. Valverde's side have been very strong on home soil this season – winning 10 of their 12 fixtures. They have managed 37 goals, meanwhile, and conceded just six times.

2.45pmLuis Suarez scored a hat-trick, Messi netted twice and Philippe Coutinho registered his first La Liga goal as Barcelona thumped Girona 6-1 on home soil last weekend. It has been an extraordinary campaign for the Catalan giants, but Atletico are right on their tails, and a defeat for the home side this afternoon would certainly make things very interesting indeed. Let's hope for a cracking game.

2.48pmIn terms of what is ahead for Barcelona, the Catalan giants will travel to Malaga in the league next weekend, before welcoming Chelsea for the second leg of their last-16 Champions League tie on March 14. Messi scored late at Stamford Bridge in the first leg to secure a 1-1 draw, and Barcelona will be confident of finishing the job in front of their own supporters to march into the quarter-finals.


2.55pmBarcelona also have the final of the Copa del Rey to think about, with that taking place against Sevilla on April 12. A league and cup double would represent a very impressive first season for Valverde, but there is no question that the Catalan giants want to regain the Champions League title.

2.58pmAtletico, meanwhile, will enter this match off the back of a thumping 4-0 win over Leganes on Wednesday night. Antoine Griezmann made it seven goals in his last two matches with all four on the night, and Atletico have now won their last eight games in all competitions since suffering a 3-1 defeat at Sevilla in the second leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final. Simeone's side are in fine form.

3.02pmIn La Liga, Atletico are unbeaten since a 1-0 loss at Espanyol on December 22. Since then, they have won eight of their nine top-flight fixtures to keep on Barcelona's tails. Much has been made of Barcelona's season, but Atletico deserve such credit for making it a fight when Real Madrid could not.


3.08pmAtletico have not exactly been full of goals throughout the season, but they have scored nine times in their last two league matches, and have the best defensive record this term having shipped just 11 goals in their 26 fixtures. They have won nine of their 13 away games in the top flight, and have conceded just seven times, which is a stunning record. Can they keep a clean sheet in this match?

3.12pmIt might well be that Atletico would take a point this afternoon in order to stay in the hunt. A defeat would surely end their chances of catching the leaders, but a point would keep Barcelona honest. It is set up for a fascinating game of football at Camp Nou, and kickoff is now just three minutes away!

0 minKICKOFF! Atletico kick things off at Camp Nou...

2 min... it must be said that there is a wonderful atmosphere inside the stadium this afternoon. Barcelona will have a lot of the ball on home soil while Atletico sit deep and attempt to threaten on the counter-attack. It should be a fascinating game of football as first welcomes second here.

4 minVrsaljko has just brought Iniesta to the ground with a rash challenge, and Atletico will look to stop play when possible in this match. Barcelona are the team - as expected - controlling the ball.

6 minYou do get the feeling that the first goal this afternoon - if there indeed is one - could be crucial. Iniesta has just had a shot deflected wide of the post from distance, before Atletico cleared the resulting corner. Coutinho has been getting on the ball for the home side early on here.

7 minOblak has to be alert to keep out a clever effort from Busquets, who had met a cross from Coutinho. Barcelona have already forced two corners as they continue to dominate the ball.

9 minSuarez goes up to challenge Oblak as Iniesta dinks one into the Atletico box, but the whistle is blown for a foul on the Atletico goalkeeper. Barcelona are dominating the football at the moment.

12 minBarcelona have had four corners already, but Atletico have defended them quite well. The visitors are just not seeing the ball at the moment, however, as the home side continue to dominate.

13 minBarcelona win a free kick just on the edge of the Atletico box...

13 min... Messi's free kick is straight into the Atletico wall.

15 minPass, pass, pass from Barcelona as they look to work the space in the final third.

17 minWell, 17 minutes on the clock, and we are still waiting for our first half-chance. Barcelona have dominated the ball from the first whistle - forcing four corners - but Atletico have not been overly concerned in a defensive area. Not too much of a surprise that it has been a tight match thus far.

19 minAtletico have not really got an out-ball at the moment as Barcelona continue to pass and probe. Surely the visitors cannot keep this up for the remainder of the match. It has to stick up there.

20 minPlay is stopped with Iniesta hitting the ground and holding his hip following a collision with Saul.

21 minSAVE! Oblak has to get down to keep out a strike from Messi, who had found space outside the box before having a shot. Oblak was always in a good position to make the save.

22 minThomas hits one from distance for the away side, but his effort was always too high.

23 minIniesta is down again, and Barcelona might be forced into a change here.

24 minIniesta's hamstring looks to have gone, which is terrible news.

25 minIniesta is back on the field, but for how long? He plays on for the moment!

25 minBarcelona have a free kick in a dangerous area as Thomas brings Messi to the ground...

26 min... GOAL! Barcelona 1-0 Atletico (Messi)

27 minOh my word, what a goal! It is quite wonderful from Messi as the Argentine finds the top corner with a sensational free kick. Oblak simply could not get across to make the save.

29 minIt is difficult to come up with words to describe Messi. It is another piece of magic from the Argentine; it needed to be special to beat Oblak, and that was indeed the case. Atletico have offered nothing going forward in the first 29 minutes, and that really has to change now.

30 minBOOKING! Messi (Barcelona) has just been booked for a follow through on Luis, even through the Argentine has been left on the ground. Messi is absolutely fuming!

31 minBOOKING! Vrsaljko (Atletico) is booked for a trip on Suarez.

33 minCHANCE! Wonderful defending from Gimenez as the Atletico centre-back manages to slide and deny Suarez, who had pounced on a loose ball inside the away side's box!

35 minWe have not seen anything from Costa and Griezmann in the first 35 minutes of this match. Atletico will always be in the match at 1-0, but a second for Barcelona would make it very difficult for the away side. The standout moment in the match thus far was that magic Messi free kick.

35 minSAVE! Coutinho's strike brings a decent save from Oblak.

36 minBARCELONA SUB! Iniesta cannot continue, and Gomes is on here.

38 minSAVE! Oblak has to palm a Coutinho strike behind as the pressure continues!

40 minBarcelona have been by far the best team in this first period, and there is no question that they deserve to be ahead. Atletico have just not been able to deal with the home side's movement.

40 minBarcelona again work the ball into the Atletico box, but Gomes can only deliver into the arms of Oblak; the midfielder seemed to get caught in two minds. Atletico are really struggling here.

42 minCoutinho has been very impressive for Barcelona in the first 42 minutes of this match. Another half-chance arrives when Alba delivers a low cross towards Suarez, but Godin does well to make the clearance. Atletico really cannot afford to concede a second before the interval here.

44 minGodin is back to make up for his initial error, which had allowed Suarez to break into the Atletico box. Barcelona are really pressing for a second in the final stages of the first period here.

44 minPique's header from a corner sails over the Atletico crossbar.

45 min+1Just one additional minute at the end of the first period.

45 min+2HALF-TIME: Barcelona 1-0 Atletico

4.03pmSo there we have it. The referee brings the first period to a close with Barcelona leading Atletico 1-0 courtesy of a wonderful free kick from Messi. Barcelona have absolutely dominated this football match, with Atletico not having a single half-chance in the first 45 minutes. The visitors must improve!

4.08pmSTATISTICS! Barcelona dominated the first-half possession with 67%, while they had nine attempts - four of which were on target. Atletico, meanwhile, only managed one attempt off target in the first 45 minutes. Two yellow cards to report here - Messi for Barcelona and Vrsaljko for Atletico.

4.13pmBENCH WATCH! Atletico boss Simeone has a number of attacking options on his bench this afternoon, with Correa, Gameiro, Torres and Vitolo all available. Barcelona, meanwhile, have the likes of Paulinho, Dembele and Alcacer in reserve. The Catalan outfit have already been forced into a change, however, with Andre Gomes taking the place of Iniesta, who looked to pull his hamstring here.

46 minRESTART! Barcelona resume the action here...

47 min... no changes from either side at the break, which is not too much of a surprise. However, I suspect that both managers will have alterations in mind a the second period develops here.

49 minNot an awful lot to report in the early stages of the second period, but Atletico have shown more willingness to break forward, which was lacking in the first half. It had to improve.

51 minQuite sloppy from Barcelona in the early stages of the second period, which is inviting Atletico forward. You do get the feeling that Atletico need to score the next goal if they are to stand any chance of getting back into this match. Messi's wonderful free kick remains the difference here.

52 minSaul slices the ball over the crossbar from just outside the Barcelona box.

54 minAtletico continue to enjoy the ball as Barcelona slow the tempo. Better from the visitors here.

56 minCosta makes a dangerous run behind the Barcelona defence, but the offside flag is raised. It appears that Simeone could be making a change, with Correa going through a warm-up here.

57 minBOOKING! Gimenez flattens Rakitic just outside the Barcelona box, and the home side have a free kick in a very dangerous area. Messi will step up once again here...

58 min... Messi's free kick hits the top of the Atletico wall.

59 minATLETICO SUB! Correa replaces Vrsaljko for the away side.

62 minPique has been struggling with a knee problem in recent weeks, and it appears that the issue is causing the centre-back some concern once again. It will be very interesting to see whether a change is made here. Atletico, without doubt, are more threatening in the second half here.

62 minTer Stegen collects a header from Saul as Atletico threaten from a corner kick.

64 minUmtiti does well to block a strike from Costa as Atletico continue to force the issue. The visitors then win a free kick in a wide area when Costa is felled by Umtiti. Much better game here.

66 minThomas, who is now playing right-back for Atletico, delivers a cross towards the far post, but Barcelona's goalkeeper is on hand to collect. The away side are the team on the front foot here.

67 minHalf-chance for Barcelona this time as Pique attacks a corner from the left, but Godin does well to make the block. Umtiti then rises to head the second corner over the Atletico crossbar.

67 minATLETICO SUB! Game replaces Gabi for the away side.

69 minKoke delivers a set piece into the Barcelona box, but Godin is adjudged to have fouled Pique. Still more than 20 minutes of football remaining, and Messi's free kick remains the difference.

71 minAtletico are preparing another change, with Lucas entering the field at any moment.

73 minNothing much from Barcelona at the moment as Atletico continue to enjoy the ball.

74 minGriezmann strikes over the crossbar from just outside the Barcelona box.

75 minATLETICO SUB! Lucas Hernandez replaces Luis for the away side.

77 minGOAL DISALLOWED! Suarez converts for Barcelona, but the forward is offside!

79 minMessi has one deflected over the Atletico crossbar from outside the box as the tempo continues to rise. I suspect that we are in for a very exciting final 10 minutes in this wonderful stadium.

79 minSAVE! Smart save from Oblak to keep out a volley from Busquets!

81 minCoutinho goes down inside the Atletico box, but the referee is not interested. Barcelona have certainly raised the tempo in the last few minutes as a response to Atletico's improvement.

83 minStill a good 10 minutes of football to be played in this match, and Atletico are having a lot of the ball in Barcelona's half of the field. The visitors just need that one half-chance to arrive here.

85 minBARCELONA SUB! Paulinho replaces Coutinho for the home side.

87 minGriezmann, Costa, Gameiro and Correa are playing as a front four for Atletico, but the visitors are finding it difficult to feed their attackers in dangerous areas, and time is running out here.

87 minGOAL DISALLOWED! Gameiro fires home for Atletico, but the whistle had been flown! Costa was offside in the build-up, and Barcelona survive a big moment here.

89 minBarcelona have a free kick inside their own half as Hernandez handles the ball.

90 min+1We are into the first of three additional minutes at Camp Nou.

90 min+2Suarez just chips wide of the far post!

90 min+3Time is running out for Atletico as we approach the final minute of added time here.

90 min+4FULL-TIME: Barcelona 1-0 Atletico

5.07pSo there we have it. The referee brings the second period to a close with Barcelona winning 1-0 courtesy of Messi's first-half free kick. The Catalan giants have moved eight points clear of second-placed Atletico in the table. Thanks for joining Sports Mole once again!

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Antoine Griezmann celebrates scoring for Atletico Madrid on September 17, 2017
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