The Asturian Coach showed his qualities as Barcelona maintained their 100% record by defeating Atletico Madrid 2-1 at the Vicente Calderon
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FC Barcelona capped off an impressive 2-1 win over Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid to continue their 100% record in La Liga this season and go top of the log.
Goals from Neymar and Lionel Messi cancelled out Fernando Torres’ opener as the Catalans secure their fifth consecutive win over Diego Simeone’s men as they continue their defence of the Liga title.
Barça coach Luis Enrique took the risk of starting talismanic forward Lionel Messi on the bench after the star missed the team’s final training session before the game and opted to start Rafinha Alcantara instead. That action was fairly questioned by some fans as benching the best player in such a tough game isn’t the best option.
A similar decision in last season’s 1-0 loss to Real Sociedad nearly brought nemesis to the Barcelona dressing room, but the coach was keen to give his most important player some rest after making a 12,000km journey to Madrid following the birth of his son and he left the Argentine out of the starting line-up.
Lucho brought Messi on just after Barcelona got the equaliser through Neymar, a goal which put pressure on the Colchoneros and from then onwards, Messi totally dominated the game, giving Barcelona more confidence, chances began to come and finally, he got the all important winning goal.
Funny enough, had Barcelona lost the game, huge criticism would be placed on Luis Enrique but it’s so unfortunate how his success isn’t credited by fans and the media as it should have been. He succeeded in winning the game and also saving Lionel Messi from picking up a possible injury.
Messi’s substitution was made at the right time of the game given the fact that Atleti’s players were under double-pressure following Neymar’s equaliser, and the defenders would have lost a little of their strength and efficiency keeping the likes of Luis Suarez and Co at bay for almost an hour.
Aside from Luis Enrique’s impressive antics, all Barcelona players deserve equal credits. This team have often struggled without Lionel Messi in the line-up even against small teams but showed what they are capable of against an on-form Atletico Madrid team.
With Dani Alves and Claudio Bravo injured and Gerard Pique suspended, Barcelona were without three starters, three key players and one will expect a difficult game against an Atleti side that beat Sevilla 3-0 away from home, but they controlled the game in all fronts, from start to finish, even without Messi starting and were duly rewarded with an impressive win which they totally deserve.
This period, especially the win against Atletico Madrid will be crucial to Barça’s season. They are missing a lot of key players and have the most difficult away fixtures which will see them travel to Celta Vigo, Sevilla, Valencia, Real Madrid and Espanyol. If Barcelona can pull such magnificent display against Atletico Madrid with such depleted squad, then they can wriggle through this hard time.
The win shows Barcelona team are still the best in the world and are capable of beating any opponent that come their way irrespective of level of their squad. The players coped well with the pressure, Andres Iniesta looks great and the front-line is magnificent. With the showing against Atletico Madrid, Luis Enrique and his players deserve a lot of credit.