While FC Barcelona has taken some time in recent matches to fully get into the game, on Sunday night they started out fully in their stride. Barcelona were guests of Atletico Madrid at the Vicente Calderon stadium and with none of the apparent grogginess of late they started out on the attack.
This seemed to pay off after just seven minutes when Lionel Messi scored, however the referee ruled it out for handball. Next up came Xavi, whose 30 yard free kick forced Atletico keeper Courtois to show what he could do and save the ball.
The hosts quickly stepped up to the mark and responded to the Barcelona attack with a couple of dangerous looking breaks of their own. However, solid work by the defence and by Victor Valdes ensured nothing came of these.
The match started to get a little tough, but Barcelona settled down and then showed why they are considered the best team in the world at the moment when Messi, Cesc Fabregas and Dani Alves worked in perfect harmony to score the first goal of the match. However, Atletico’s Falcao responded with an attack on the Barcelona goal, which was denied by the quickness of Valdes.
After the break Atletico came on with a renewed sense of purpose and quickly started to push. This paid off a few minutes into the second half when Falcao, on the back post, volleyed the ball into the Catalan’s net from a corner.
As is so often the case Barcelona dominated possession, but even so the hosts were quick to attack when they had the opportunity. Dani Alves was instrumental in setting up an attack on the Atletico goal, but the ball was just beyond Messi’s reach and Alexis headed it over the post. Close to the end Barcelona’s defence messed up and allowed Falcao into the area. However, Valdes kept his head and reached the ball to prevent a second goal.
The match was won from a free kick by Messi. The ball soared over the Atletico defence and looked like it would go over the goal; however at the last second it dipped and went into the back of the net, much to the surprise of the Atletico goalie.
The final score was 2-1 to Barcelona, but with a 10 point disadvantage to Real Madrid their dream of another Spanish league title in 2012 was already over; coach Pep Guardiola admitted the fact, saying only that they would continue to play until the end.