Atletico Madrid v Barcelona – Catalonia meets Madrid

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Barcelona's forward Lionel Messi celebrates at the end of the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg football match between FC Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain at the Camp Nou Stadium in Barcelona on March 8, 2017. (PAU BARRENA/AFP/Getty Images)

Barcelona took their 100% La Liga record to the new home of Atletico. Naturally in the current political climate they received a hostile reception. But ultimately they returned home with a point. Catalonia meets Madrid ended with honours even.

Atletico Madrid v Barcelona – Catalonia meets Madrid

Wanderful atmosphere.

The Wanda Metropolitano is another magnificent addition to the range of spectacular new stadiums. On this Saturday it held over 64,000 vibrant red and white shirted home fans. Many carried Spanish flags. Which were soon waved at the visiting players. Inevitably when Catalonia meets Madrid Gerard Pique got special treatment whenever he touched the ball. But if Barca were intimidated they didn’t show it.

Atletico hold Barca to a draw

The match became a fascinating duel between the passing moves of the Catalans against the defence of Atletico. But it was a combination by the home side that drew first blood. A period of probing gave Saul the chance to deliver a right foot shot past Marc-Andre ter Stegen. That gave Atletico the lead. However Barcelona did not panic. The pattern stayed the same. With home coach Diego Simeone remaining a manic presence on the touchline. And for some time it seemed the visitors might lose. But eventually the home defence was breached. Rather than from a tricky combination it was from a cross by Sergio that Luis Suarez headed home. Barcelona had equalised.

Messi the magician.

Leo Messi has been described as being from another football planet. In an age of mileage statistics he often just strolls around. But he has instant control. Then suddenly there is a burst of pace and he combines with Suarez or Iniesta to shoot at goal. Whenever this happened the crowd seemed to hold its collective breath. As they did when he approached a free kick near the edge of the penalty area. That was in the final minute. His chip went over the wall but straight into the arms of goalie Oblak. There was relief all round.

Real move closer.

The contest ended with honours even. The atmosphere, the fans and the spectacular stadium had all contributed. Barcelona kept their unbeaten record though they knew rivals Real Madrid had moved closer. Because across town another superstar, Ronaldo, had scored the winner in the derby defeat of Getafe. On a warm Saturday in Madrid both Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi had strutted their stuff. And those few that saw both live were privileged witnesses.

 

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