Today’s match between Atletico Madrid and Barcelona produced no shortage of action and intrigue: an early upset bid, goals from Barcelona’s superstars and, ultimately, a 2-1 win for Barcelona. The result also raised a few questions, most stemming from Atletico’s baffling aggressiveness that resulted in a pair of red cards — and the fact that Barca somehow failed to score in the final 30 minutes despite a two-man advantage.
Atletico went up early behind a goal from Jorge Resurreccion in the 10th minute. It would be another 20 minutes of Atletico controlling the tempo before Luis Enrique’s squad responded when Jordi Alba took his time before picking out a streaking Messi for the equalizer.
Striker Luis Suarez snapped the tie just seven minutes later. The 29-year old Uruguayan hauled in the stunning pass from Dani Alves that weaved through two Atletico defenders, fought off the last man before sealing the run with a deadly finish that stoked memories of his goal against Real Madrid last season. It was Suarez’s 19th in league play, furthering his lead atop the scorers’ list.
Atletico did little to help its own cause, especially once it trailed. Just before the half, Filipe Luis attempted a poor challenge, and planted his spikes squarely in the knee of an oncoming Messi, sending the Ballon d’Or holder to the ground writhing in pain. (He would be up and about after a few minutes.) Luis would be sent off immediately by the officials. Twenty minutes into the second half, Diego Godin slid in too hard on Suarez and picked up his second yellow card.
But, even down two men, Atletico’s touted defense hung in against the vaunted Barca offense, fending off multiple Barca runs and even pulling goalkeeper Jan Oblak up in the final moments in a doomed effort to knot the score.
Barcelona now lead the league in overall points, with Atletico trailing by three and Real Madrid in third, down by seven points. Although Messi and Co. have yet to lose, they have played from behind in two of their past three contests.