Barcelona returned to winning ways in LaLiga with a 1-0 victory over Atletico Madrid at Camp Nou.
Held to goalless draws in back-to-back league matches, Barca’s march to the title had lost some steam, but a narrow victory ended that run.
Ferran Torres‘ first-half goal secured all three points for the hosts, with Atletico struggling to muster much of a threat in response.
The win moves Barcelona 11 points ahead of Real Madrid with eight games left to play.
Antoine Griezmann was inches away from putting Atletico ahead early on, Thomas Lemar feeding a pass to his compatriot who curled an effort from outside the box that struck the underside of the crossbar.
Angel Correa then tested Marc-Andre ter Stegen with a strike from the edge of the area, forcing the Barca goalkeeper into a diving save, while the hosts dominated possession but had few chances to threaten Jan Oblak.
That changed one minute before the break, Raphinha bursting down the left side and playing a pass into the middle of the pitch that was met by Torres, who steered his effort into the bottom right corner.
Barcelona pushed to further their advantage in the second half, Raphinha dragging an effort off target before Gavi picked up a loose ball following a corner and drilled a low strike that bounced narrowly wide of the left-hand post.
Raphinha then bundled Robert Lewandowski’s drilled cross goal bound but Oblak dived onto the loose ball, before Lewandowski wasted a golden opportunity to secure the win when he selfishly went for goal but missed the target with the Brazilian in space with an open goal to aim at.
Barcelona player ratings (4-3-3)
GK: Marc-Andre ter Stegen – 6/10 – Some nice saves to keep Griezmann out.
RB: Jules Kounde – 5/10 – There’s a reason Kounde doesn’t like playing right-back. His attacking limitations out wide were a massive issue for Barcelona and Carrasco’s speed was a little too much for him.
CB: Ronald Araujo – 7/10 – A great performance both on and off the ball. Another claim for the title of world’s best defender.
CB: Marcos Alonso – 6/10 – Not comfortable in central areas but usually did enough to avoid danger.
LB: Alejandro Balde – 6/10 – Not his best performance. Flashed his inexperience by leaving Alonso isolated on the left at times.
DM: Sergio Busquets – 6/10 – Marked out the first half by Atletico but the extra space in the second half allowed him to get involved more.
CM: Frenkie de Jong – 7/10 – A major threat in Barcelona’s midfield. His ability to advance the ball is so important in this side.
CM: Gavi – 6/10 – Wasn’t particularly involved on the ball but his energy was a major problem for Atletico.
RW: Raphinha – 7/10 – Bagged the assist for Torres’ opener in a performance full of outstanding energy.
ST: Robert Lewandowski – 6/10 – Involved in a whole lot. Guilty of taking a few too many touches when a confident Lewandowski would usually just be shooting.
LW: Ferran Torres – 7/10 – Took his goal well and showed good composure to actually take the shot on in the first place.
Pedri (61′ for Torres) – 6/10
Eric Garcia (61′ for Alonso) – 5/10
Franck Kessie (78′ for De Jong) – 6/10
Ansu Fati (90′ for Raphinha) – N/A
Xavi – 7/10 – Struggled to get things going in the first half but beat Simeone at his own game after the break, focusing on fast counters to keep on top.
Atletico Madrid player ratings (3-5-2)
GK: Jan Oblak – 5/10 – Didn’t need to do much but will have questions to answer about his positioning for Torres’ opener.
CB: Stefan Savic – 5/10 – Came off second best against Lewandowski and Torres. Booked and suspended for the next game.
CB: Jose Maria Gimenez – 5/10 – A few shaky moments up against Barcelona’s forward line.
CB: Mario Hermoso – 5/10 – Struggled more than most in Atletico’s defence. Guilty of a handful of mistakes.
RM: Nahuel Molina – 7/10 – Got the better of Balde with his tenacity and energy.
CM: Rodrigo de Paul – 6/10 – Flashed his elite vision on occasion but will be frustrated not to have done more.
CM: Axel Witsel – 5/10 – Struggled with the pace of the game. Caught out of position more than once.
CM: Thomas Lemar – 5/10 – Buzzed around the field with energy without doing a whole lot. Tried to rip Busquets’ shorts off.
LM: Yannick Carrasco – 7/10 – Saw plenty of space on the left as Kounde struggled with his positioning, but couldn’t make the most of it.
ST: Antoine Griezmann – 7/10 – An absolute menace in the first half but failed to maintain that level as the game went on.
ST: Angel Correa – 6/10 – Also enjoyed a hot start but faded away before being hooked on the hour mark.
Pablo Barrios (59′ for Witsel) – 5/10
Alvaro Morata (59′ for Correa) – 6/10
Saul Niguez (67′ for Lemar) – 5/10
Sergio Reguilon (79′ for Hermoso) – 5/10
Diego Simeone – 5/10 – His lineup lost the midfield battle as Simeone couldn’t find a way to get back into the game.
Player of the match – Raphinha (Barcelona)
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