Joao Felix scores as Barcelona beat Atletico Madrid 1-0

A much improved Barcelona beat Atletico Madrid 1-0. A scoreline that flattered the visitors as the Catalan side were wasteful in front of goal.
FC Barcelona v Atletico Madrid - LaLiga EA Sports
FC Barcelona v Atletico Madrid - LaLiga EA Sports / Soccrates Images/GettyImages

João Félix scored against his parent team as Barcelona managed to hang on to a much needed 1-0 win over Atletico Madrid.

The talk heading into the game was on Barcelona's lackluster displays and how they needed to improve in order to beat Atletico Madrid, who were perhaps the most in-form team in LaLiga.

The Catalan side did just that as they were all over the visitors in the opening 15 minutes, creating three clear goal scoring opportunities yet failing to convert on any of them.

The breakthrough for Barcelona finally came in the 28th minute. Pedri received the ball in his own half and passed to Jules Kounde, playing at right-back. The Frenchman laid it off to Raphinha through the middle who ran at the Atletico defense. His pass to Felix looked poor but the Portuguese rescued and chipped Jan Oblak, with no qualms of celebrating after putting Barcelona ahead.

The remaining opening half played at the same tune with Barcelona having control of the ball and putting themselves in position to increase their lead. But what ended up being the theme of the match was Barcelona squandering chance after chance.

The second half saw Atletico Madrid get into the game somewhat but the dominance early on was still on the home side. Felix proved to be the lightning rod as he kept getting fouled repeatedly with Cesar Azpilicueta fortunate to stay on the pitch after picking up a yellow and continuing to border on a second yellow.

The final 15 minutes of the match was the closest Atletico Madrid came to equalizing after some questionable decisions from the referee. Former Barcelona player Memphis Depay saw his free-kick saved by Iñaki Peña and then hit off the cross bar. In stoppage time, Iñaki Peña came up huge with another save.

There was a sense of relief when the referee finally blew the full time whistle.

If Xavi was criticized, deservedly so, for his team's display on the pitch, then he deserves praise as well for how they played against Atletico Madrid.

He kept Joao Cancelo on the left and utilized Jules Kounde at right-back. Kounde was involved in the lead up to the goal. The midfield trio of Pedri-Gundogan-De Jong worked like a dream and how everyone envisioned it could given the ability of those three players. This time around, Xavi got his line-up and tactics spot on.

If there is anything that will concern Xavi and supporters alike, it's the lack of finishing. Robert Lewandowski missed a couple of chances including one late on that would have put the game to bed. Lamine Yamal had the ball on a four on one break and somehow that didn't end up in a goal. Barcelona need to be more clinical as these misses will come back to haunt them in matches sooner rather than later.

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With the win, Barcelona pull ahead of Atletico Madrid and now sit in third place, four points behind Real Madrid and Girona. The Blaugrana can pull themselves within a point of Girona should they pick up a win against their fellow Catalan side when they meet in another important game next week.