Joao Felix returned to haunt Atlético Madrid as the Portuguese striker scored the only goal of the game in Barcelona’s 1-0 win on 3 December.
The Catalans moved above Atletico in the table thanks to a smart first-half finish from Joao Felix, who joined Barca on loan from the main club and has since spoken less than enthusiastically of their style of football.
That said, Atleti have been La Liga’s in-form side in recent weeks, winning 13 of their last 14 matches in all competitions to date. In the end, they paid the price for a timid performance in the first half and a lack of chances after the break.
Barca could have extended their advantage when Raphinha hit the post and Robert Lewandowski missed several clear-cut chances, marking the ninth time in a row that Xavi’s men have won by a single goal. Still, given the head coach’s scrutiny and the fact they have another derby game against high-flying Girona, this was potentially a key performance and win.
Inaki Pena, who kept his place ahead of the injured Marc-Andre ter Stegen, produced a brilliant save to turn Memphis Depay’s free-kick onto the crossbar and deflect Angelo Correa’s shot deep into added time. But this was a night that belonged to Joao Felix, who went into the match feeling he had something to prove against Atleti. He certainly did.
Barca are now four points behind Real Madrid and Girona in La Liga after 14 games. Atleti, fourth, are three points further back. You feel this is a title fight that has a long way to go.