Defending LaLiga champions Barcelona continued to face a reversal in their campaign this season after they were forced to settle for a draw against Atletico Madrid. A decline in Barcelona’s run of form has been of utmost help to Real Madrid, as Zinedine Zidane’s side now have the opportunity to go four points clear ahead of the Lionel Messi-led team.
Before the game against Atletico Madrid, Barcelona had a two-point deficit against Real Madrid and a victory would have put them ahead of Los Blancos, at least temporarily. However, the Catalan giants had to settle with a point at Camp Nou after a 2-2 draw, overshadowed by three penalties in the game. In the 11th minute, Barcelona got the much-needed breakthrough when Diego Costa netted an own goal in his mistaken attempt to defend a corner.
However, Barcelona’s lead did not last long, when Carrasco was brought down in the penalty area just 8 minutes later by Arturo Vidal. Costa decided to take a shot at the penalty but Marc-Andre ter Stegen produced a brilliant save. But a Video Assistant Referee (VAR) check revealed that the goalkeeper did not step on the goal-line during the kick.
Thus, Atletico Madrid had another shot at goal after VAR check, with Saul Niguez deciding to attempt this around and he went on converting the kick quite well. Lionel Messi again took the lead with a panenka spot-kick in the 50th minute after Nelson Semedo was fouled inside the penalty area by Felipe. The goal marked an important milestone for the Argentina international, who netted for the 700th time in his professional career.
However, Barcelona’s lead in the game was short-lived, again. Atletico Madrid got back into the game after midfielder Carrasco again won a penalty after being fouled in the penalty. Although Barcelona players appealed against the alleged dive, the referee went ahead with the spot-kick, which was duly converted by Saul.
The draw leaves Barcelona languishing on the second spot in LaLiga, one less than Real Madrid LaLiga points. Los Blancos could well lead the charts with a four-point advantage if they defeat Getafe on Thursday (Friday according to IST). On the other hand, Barcelona will next play Villareal on Sunday (Monday according to IST).