Franz Kafka writes in his Metamorphosis about the transformation of Gregory Samsa into an insect. If the Czech writer were a sports chronicler, several metamorphoses would be found on the pitch of Montjuic. The most obvious is that of Joao Felix, the player who played in the build-up and starred in the match. From boredom to smiling. The fury of the former showed perched on a fence of the highest stadium in Barcelona after scoring the only goal. [Narration & Statistics, 1-0]
Then the style, which Xavi and Simeone highlighted in the previous talk and has been blurred in both coaches. Xavi's Barça were the pinnacle of one-mindedness last season and this season they have not quite started the beautiful game that they defend so much. Simeone's Atleti is one of the highest-scoring teams in 2023 and the third with the most goals in the league.
That transmutation was seen in the early stages of the match. That high press that Cholo likes so much caused two turnovers in the red-and-white defense that almost cost them two goals in just two minutes. Raphinha and Lewandowski were unable to score. While in a beautiful braided play by the red and white squad, Griezmann patiently finished it after a backheel pass from Llorente, but the Blaugrana defense rejected. Metamorphosis.
This change in personalities is also exemplified in the attack of both teams. The Polish striker is less frightening than the Spanish matador. Lewandowski has eight goals and four assists to Morata's 12 goals and three assists. Today, failures haunt the former more than the latter. The volley he had on the penalty spot after Koundé's cross is one of the chances that is more difficult to miss than to score.
However, as the saying goes, as the minutes went by, Atlético took refuge closer and closer to Oblak, forgetting the touch team they have become this year, and Barcelona accepted the space and began to dominate the game as their coach likes to say, But he hadn't shown it until yesterday.
The Catalans were more like the team that woke up in Porto, active in pressing and with a taste for elaboration, taking advantage of most of the players they have in midfield. Hooked on a Gundogan who likes these games and the return of De Jong, at the moment, more vital for Barça's game than Pedri. But if there is one player who was going to be a protagonist, whether he liked it or not, it was Joao Felix.
The Portuguese, very active in the game and with a metamorphosis of this summer's gesture, took advantage of a bad pressure from Atlético to win a duel against Molina, very soft, and sting with quality against Oblak. If the most incredulous thought he would not celebrate the goal, they had to see the Portuguese beat his chest and rise above the billboard with his arms crossed. Moderate...
We can't imagine what would have happened if he scored a second goal after a nap by Koke on the ball and three electric passes from Barça that ended in his boot. But he shot weakly and into the middle, where Oblak was. After the shot, he received a good gift from Hermoso on his tibia, like the one given to him shortly before by Witsel and then a push from Giménez in a corner in favor of Atlético that Félix decided to dramatize in a ridiculous way. He didn't leave many friends in the red-and-white dressing room. Neither did Azpilicueta, although they never met in the dugout.
Wars aside. Barcelona have been resurrected this season. The signs glimpsed against Porto have been ratified in their second most important match so far in La Liga. They did it, of course, against a stiff team. Physically very fair. With an eleven that everyone knows by heart except for two or three changes. Simeone also saw it and had already exhausted the substitutions in the 65th minute and that revitalized Atletico who wanted to resemble the team that had 10 wins in this league in 14 rounds.
But the red-and-white curse in Barcelona continues. 17 years without winning. And yesterday, although they tried until the last minute, they couldn't find a way to find a way to get into Iñaki Peña's goal. The goalkeeper even excelled at a foul by Memphis in the 80th minute with the help of the post and then against Correa somewhat wide. Atletico's clearest chances of the match. The red-and-white siege continued and Lewandowski forgave. Barcelona's 1-0 and Joao's triumph and resurrection. We leave the postscript to Griezmann. The Frenchman was Barça's, but the worst thing is that the Portuguese, too. And we all know what the best version of each one is.
- FC Barcelona
- Atletico Madrid
- Joao Felix