Joao Felix came back to haunt his former club Atletico Madrid on Sunday, scoring the only goal in Barcelona’s win at Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys.
The ex-Atleti star, on loan at Barcelona this season, popped up with what proved to be the winning goal of the game in the 28th minute.
How the game unfolded
Barcelona started the game well, converting their possession into chances in way that they perhaps haven’t done often enough this season. Their best opportunity to score in the opening 15 minutes would fall to Robert Lewandowski, who was found unmarked in the penalty area by a low cross from Raphinha. The ex-Bayern man’s subsequent acrobatic effort on goal proved to be egregiously wayward however, flying well wide of Jan Oblak’s left post.
The home side eventually got their just rewards for a positive start to the game in the 28th minute when Joao Felix made it 1-0. The forward, ironically on loan from Atletico Madrid, latched onto a pass from Raphinha before bursting into the penalty area and delightfully dinking the ball over Jan Oblak and into the net.
Barca’s dominance continued thereafter in the first half and they could’ve (probably should’ve) doubled their lead through Felix on the brink of half-time. The forward stole in at the near post to get his foot onto a Lewandowski cut-back pass, but saw his subsequent flicked effort on goal brilliantly saved by Oblak at the near post.
Despite a raft of half-time changes from Diego Simeone, Xavi Hernandez’s side continued to control the game and came within a whisker of making it 2-0 in the 58th minute. Some sharp interplay on the edge of the box between Pedri and Raphinha culminated in the latter drilling the ball off the foot of the post.
After two more changes from Simeone – Memphis Depay and Saul Niguez were introduced – Atletico Madrid began to slowly clamour their way back into the game, with Antoine Griezmann hitting the side-netting from the left of the box during a positive period of play from the visitors.
One of said subs, Memphis, would come the closet to levelling the scores late in the game, forcing Inaki Pena to tip a brilliant free kick onto the crossbar.
In the 85th minute, Lewandowski spurned a glorious opportunity to put the game to bed. After drifting past Azpilicueta, with just the goalkeeper to beat from seven yards out, the Polish striker curled embarrassingly wide of the post.
Pena once again came up trumps for Barca in the 92nd minute to ensure that his team came away with all three points by getting a strong hand to a powerful effort from substitute Angel Correa.
GK: Inaki Pena – 7/10 – The stand-in goalkeeper made two stunning saves late on.
RB: Jules Kounde – 6/10 – The France international didn’t provide too much going forward, but he defended well throughout.
CB: Ronald Araujo – 6/10 – Back where he wants to be, the heart of the Barca defence, Aruajo put in a solid outing.
CB: Andreas Christensen – 6/10 – A late inclusion in the starting XI after Inigo Martinez suffered an injury just before kick-off, Christensen marked Alvaro Morata completely out of the game.
LB: Joao Cancelo – 6/10 – Put in a really good shift defensively.
CM: Ilkay Gundogan – 6/10 – A tidy outing from the ex-Man City man.
CM: Frenkie de Jong – 9/10 – A classy outing from the Dutch international. When he’s in this form there’s very few midfielders in the world who can match him.
CM: Pedri – 8/10 – Now back to full fitness, Pedri was back to his very best on Sunday evening.
RW: Raphinha – 7/10 – So lively on the right flank. Deserved a goal which didn’t come.
ST: Robert Lewandowski – 5/10 – Missed a few too many chances for Barcelona’s fans’ liking on the night.
LW: Joao Felix – 8/10 – Of course he scored. It was a lovely goal too.
SUB: Lamine Yamal (77′ for Raphinha) – 6/10
SUB: Ferran Torres (77′ for Joao Felix) – 6/10
SUB: Fermin Lopez (89′ for Pedri) – N/A
Manager – Xavi Hernandez – 6/10 – With his two main midfielders now back to full fitness, on Sunday evening we saw the style of football Xavi wants to be play at Barca.