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Luis Suarez rescues perseverant Barcelona to extend unbeaten run in La Liga | Quick Reaction and Player Ratings


Luis Suarez salvaged a valuable point after sending an inch-perfect cross from Sergi Roberto to the back of Atletico Madrid's net late in the second half, deservedly extending Barcelona's unbeaten run in La Liga as a result.

Given the importance of the match against one of the best teams in Spanish football, Ernesto Valverde opted to field a starting eleven full of internationals despite most of them having accumulated plenty of miles on their legs during the recent FIFA break. As a result, the team lacked that much-needed extra oomph to break Diego Simeone's back-line.

The manager's decision to surprisingly deploy a 4-4-2 formation with Andre Gomes effectively becoming a right winger when in attacking transitions certainly didn't help either.


Despite Barcelona clearly dominating possession throughout the game, it was in fact Atletico Madrid who created the better chances during the first half -- as proved by Saul's goal after just 21 minutes.

The game didn't change much until Valverde introduced both Gerard Deulofeu and, particularly, Sergi Roberto after the half-time break. The inclusion of both La Masia graduates added the essential freshness and decisiveness the team was lacking and, fortunately for Cules, the team's perseverance and improved purpose was rewarded by Barca's only goal, courtesy of an improved version of El Pistolero Suarez than we have been used to in recent games.

All in all, the 1-1 draw achieved by Barcelona in their first visit to the rebranded Wanda Metropolitano stadium can be considered yet another step in the right direction for Barca. Sure, we would all have loved the Blaugranas to Catalunya with a further three points under their belts but, given Atletico's quality, form and style of play, there certainly won't be many teams in Spanish football (if any) capable of getting a better result against Diego Simeone's men in their home ground this season.

Match Stats:






Here are Francesc Tomas' Player Ratings:

Ter Stegen - 8

Semedo - 7
Pique - 5
Umtiti - 8
Jordi Alba - 6

Busquets - 7
Iniesta - 6
Rakitic - 6
Gomes - 6

Luis Suarez - 7
Messi - 8

Subs:
Sergi Roberto - 7
Deulofeu - 6
Paulinho - 6

In Episode 41 of The Barcelona Podcast, we celebrated Messi's heroic performances for Argentina, Valverde's formation changes and answered your listener questions! It's here:

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The Barcelona Podcast is brought to you by Francesc Tomas (as seen in ESPN, The Guardian) and Dan Hilton (Barcablog). Listen in for the hottest breaking stories from the Camp Nou!



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