Lionel Messi limps off as Barcelona and Atletico Madrid play out draw
La Liga, Camp Nou: Barcelona 1 (Rakitic 41) Atletico Madrid (Correa 61)
Barcelona and Atletico Madrid played out a 1-1 draw in the first title race six-pointer of the Spanish Liga season as Lionel Messi limped off with a groin injury.
Ivan Rakitic gave the Catalans a first half lead as Luis Enrique’s side looked to make the most of their dominance across the opening 45 minutes, ghosting into the penalty area to get on the end of a cross.
But Diego Simeone found a way to gather his players at the half time interval, with Atletico Madrid restarting the match with fresh impetuous and drive. However, the game truly turned upon Messi and Sergio Busquets’ withdrawal through injury, with Angel Correa netting the equaliser within seconds of coming off the bench.
Both sides pressing for a winner, with Neymar testing Jan Oblak and Diego Godin forcing Marc-Andre Ter Stegen into a save from a close range header, but neither could find the breakthrough, meaning Real Madrid were let off the hook for drawing against Villarreal earlier in the evening.
How costly will Lionel Messi’s injury prove? A common theme is starting to form concerning Messi’s fitness. He pulled up with another groin injury midway through the second half against Atletico Madrid and could now face a spell on the touchline. Without their number 10 conducting things in and around the opposition box Barcelona looked to lose a part of their identity as a side, so how costly could Messi’s injury prove?
Messi sits on the pitch injured, next to Andres Iniesta and medical staff member Ricard PrunaReuters
MAN OF THE MATCH
Diego Godin (Atletico): Antoine Griezmann and Kevin Gameiro both impressed for Atletico Madrid, but any team that takes something back home from the Camp Nou must be in good defensive shape and Godin was the leader of the backline for the visitors. He was the organiser in chief and looked to take glee in heading away nearly every cross that came into Atletico’s penalty area. He is a defensive monster.
Atletico Madrid: Oblak 7, Juanfran 5, Savic 6, Godin 8, Luis 6, Gabi 6, Koke 5, Saul 5, Carrasco 5, Gameiro 7, Griezmann 7. Subs: Thomas 5, Correa 7, Torres 5.
15’ - FIRST MESSI EFFORT ON GOAL! The Barcelona number 10 angles a left footed shot towards goal from the edge of the box, but Oblak watched it all the way and made the save.
17’ - CARRASCO TAKES A SHOT! Now it's Atletico Madrid's turn to shoot at the opposition goal, but the Belgian's effort is saved by Ter Stegen. He too anticipated that shot on his goal.
21’ - INIESTA STRAIGHT AT OBLAK! Now the Barcelona playmaker is the one to test his luck from outside the penalty area, but once again Oblak is behind the effort to keep it scoreless.
32’ - CARRASCO SHOOTS WIDE! The Belgian took aim from the edge of the Barcelona penalty are, but he drags his shot and Ter Stegan watches as it dribbles past his near post.
42’ - GOAL! Barcelona 1-0 Atletico Madrid. And there's the breakthrough. Rakitic ghosts into the area and gets the final touch on the goal that gives Barcelona the crucial advantage in this match.
47’ - GRIEZMANN TESTS TER STEGEN! Within seconds of the restart the Frenchman is driving at the Barcelona backline and forces a good save from the keeper, shooting at the bottom corner.
56’ - UH OH! This could be a real problem for Barcelona. Messi has pulled up after a tussle with Godin and Lucho is preparing the change. The Argentine is going to have to come off.
61’ - GOAL! Barcelona 1-1 Atletico Madrid. Can you believe it? Correa has been on the pitch for a matter of seconds and he has the ball in the back of the net! He made the most of some really slack Barca defending.
74’ - DEFLECTED OVER! Neymar lines up the freekick on the very edge of the Atletico Madrid box, but there were seven men in the wall and it takes a touch off the wall on its way over.
.Barcelona's Neymar and Atletico Madrid's Juanfran Torres in action.Reuters
79’ - NEYMAR FORCES THE SAVE! For the first time all night the Brazilian gets the chance to drive at Juanfran, shooting at goal from a tight angle. But Oblak makes the near post stop.
84’ - SO CLOSE FROM PIQUE! That was inches away from a Barcelona goal. The centre back glanced a freekick towards the Atletico Madrid goal, but it flashed just past the far post.
88’ - BIG CHANCE FOR ALBA! Rakitic plays the ball out to the left back who is up from the back for the attack, but he leans back and sends his shot from a tight angle over the target.
89’ - ALMOST ANOTHER GODIN GOAL! Remember that famous Godin goal at Camp Nou? He almost scored again, sending a header towards goal from a freekick. Ter Stegen tips over.
With seven, Angel Correa has scored more goals as a substitute than any other player in La Liga since the beginning of last season.
Jan Oblak has conceded 12 goals against Barcelona, at least seven more than against any other club.
Andres Iniesta is now the only player to have made at least one assist in each of the last 14 Liga seasons.