After the Benfica nightmare, it was time for Barcelona to experience the fitting reply of the insult digested by Luis Suarez – the former Barca and current Atletico Madrid player. It was another dismal show by the Catalans, who lacked quality and depth – ultimately digested another humiliation.

Suspended coach Ronald Koeman handed starts to Nico and Gavi, plus Philippe Coutinho, while Luuk de Jong and Eric Garcia were relegated to the bench. For Atletico, the big call from boss Diego Simeone was Joao Felix partnering with Luis Suarez up top and former Barcelona man Antoine Griezmann on the bench.

The early chances for Atletico and Lemar would break things open midway through the half with some slick passing between Joao Felix and Suarez opening up a lane for Lemar, who ran onto a pass and finished past Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen for a 1-0 lead.

The chances started to come in furious fashion, with Coutinho nearly scoring an equaliser for the visitors and then Suarez missing a chance. The former Barcelona striker, who missed a massive chance earlier, would not miss, though, and doubled the lead.

There were changes during the break, with Sergi Roberto on to replace Nico for Barcelona and Kieran Tripper for Rodrigo De Paul.

Later on, it was Ansu Fati replacing Coutinho, who arguably had the best scoring opportunities of any Barcelona player on the day. Meanwhile, Angel Correa replaced Joao Felix, who enjoyed a superb day, and Griezmann came on for Suarez in an exchange of ex-Barcelona forwards.

Time was winding down on Barcelona and the chances were few and far between, so Luuk de Jong and Riqui Puig were the latest hopes on in place of Oscar Mingueza and Gavi.

But in the end, it was another toothless night for Barcelona, who flailed in front of goal and allowed home goalkeeper Jan Oblak and the Atletico defence to see things out in a straightforward fashion.

Thomas Lemar has truly undergone a transformation in recent years and is now a key figure at Atleti, capable of influencing their play and impacting games as he did on Saturday night with a goal and an assist. His emphatic finish for the opening goal left Marc-Andre Ter Stegan helpless despite his good positioning and strong figure. Later, his lofted pass allowed Suarez to saunter in on goal and pick his spot to kill the game.

Joao Felix was handed his first start of the season and it seemed to fill him with confidence. The Portuguese forward impressed from the early stages, looking for the ball and making things happen. It was his wonderful first touch that led to the opening goal. If he keeps playing like this, it will be hard to keep him on the bench.

Netting a goal against former side Barcelona was still on Luis Suarez’s to-do list but he managed to tick that off at the Estadio Wanda Metropolitano, although his celebration was tastefully muted.

With the scoreline at 1-0, the Uruguayan missed a golden chance after being played in magnificently by Joao Felix, who had a very good game. That first one was to prove merely a warning shot, however, and there was no way he was missing the second.

On the counter, where they looked dangerous all night, Felix played it to the impressive Thomas Lemar, whose lofted pass found Suarez bearing down on goal.

Suarez had the poise to wait and pick his spot for his fourth goal of the season, leaving Marc-Andre ter Stegen no chance.

The celebration that followed was one as if Suarez was asking forgiveness of his former fans, a touch of class the way his departure was handled by the Catalan club.

While he didn’t celebrate, Luis Suarez did make a gesture that appeared to be aimed at Ronald Koeman.

After scoring, Suarez imitated being on the phone, which could’ve been a dig at the fact that the Uruguayan, when leaving Barcelona, mentioned that the Dutchman had called him to tell him that he was not in his plans.

“It was for the people who know that I have the same number and that I am still using the same phone,” he said after the match.

“It was not for Koeman, not at all.”

“If you want to know… I had been joking with my children that I would do that.”

But still, don’t forget, Koeman ordered Suarez to train alone when he arrived at the club and now Suarez may have put another nail in the Dutchman’s coffin.

Meanwhile, Barcelona’s defending was a gift to Atleti, whose precise, quick attacking and the chemistry of their forwards ensured they took full advantage. The Barca full-backs rushed out to close down Marcos Llorente and Yannick Carrasco, which left space for Felix and Lemar to capitalise on. Adding Suarez into the mix, it was simply too much for Gerard Pique and Ronald Araujo to handle. Simeone had Koeman’s number here and the latter had no answer.


It’s too easy to blame the situation surrounding Barcelona right now but the truth is that both their coach and players can and should be offering more than they are right now. More work and fewer excuses are what Barcelona need if they are to perform to their potential.

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