In Sunday’s La Liga heavyweight bout, Barcelona achieved a long-awaited return to victory with a 1-0 victory over Atlético Madrid at the Camp Nou.
Claiming a 1-0 win when the two teams met in the Spanish capital for their return leg on 8 January, it was a similar story for Xavi’s young team as they extended their buffer at the top of the La Liga standings to 11 points.
With ex-Manchester City striker Ferran Torres eventually outsmarting the winner just a couple of minutes before half-time, Barça also drew a line under their three-match losing streak.
After picking up a heavyweight scalp in Catalonia and losing only one of their last five meetings against Los Colchoneros, the elected champions also inflicted Atlético’s first defeat in the top flight since early January.
Now within arm’s reach of their first La Liga trophy in three years, Barça are certainly back at their best.
In what has often been a heated competition, we have covered the main topics for discussion at the Camp Nou.
Xavi’s team is at arm’s length from La Liga history
While Barcelona may have come under scrutiny this season for yet another European nightmare, it’s no secret that Xavi’s team is heading towards the La Liga history books.
Focused on 2023 as their only focus on acquiring their first home crown since 2019, the Sunday hosts have only continued to impress many with their Spanish romp this season.
While the Camp Nou hierarchy can handle a number of public issues behind the scenes in Catalonia, the elected champions are head and shoulders above the Spanish elite this season.
Sunday’s 1-0 win has now extended their buffer over reigning champions Real Madrid to 11 points and it’s fair to say that Barça are now within arm’s reach of finishing the job.
With the Creamy’s drawn-out internal struggles this season, Xavi was rightfully thrilled to see his team show their mental resolve here.
The next time Barcelona travel to Rayo Vallecano on Wednesday night, they will look to end their La Liga tumult with a season-end turmoil.
Barça are back on top
While Barça may have known it would take an almighty collapse to prevent them from claiming their first La Liga crown since 2019, Xavi’s team has endured a bit of hesitation since returning from the March international break.
After a shocking exit from the Copa del Rey on 5 April when they lost in a remarkable 4-0 second leg at home against Real Madrid, fans across Catalonia called them to their side to get a much-needed boost here.
Opening Sunday’s Camp Nou clash after having to settle for a 0-0 draw against Getafe and Girona in a row, Barça found themselves in the midst of a three-game losing streak in all competitions.
However, to get back on track here and show why they are crowned champions, it is Barcelona’s defensive determination that has been the foundation of their success this season.
In fact, while currently keeping a clean sheet in each of their last four La Liga matches, the Spanish icons have also landed just nine staggering shots in their 30 top division competitions this year.
Atlético’s home fuss suddenly ended
While Atlético may have long expected any shocking title to be off the agenda next season, Sunday’s visitors enjoyed what was an extended romp after returning from the World Cup winter break.
Despite suffering a 1-0 defeat when they greeted the fugitive leaders in Madrid for their La Liga return bout on January 8, many in Simeone’s camp smelt the chance for a heavyweight upset in Catalonia.
Now, however, with just one win in any of their last five encounters with Barça, Los Colchoneros would be utterly disappointed if their six-game winning streak was abruptly ended.
However, after a 1-0 loss at Camp Nou, this is Atlético’s first La Liga defeat since early January, so Simeone’s team will be keen to prove that Sunday’s toothless result was nothing more than a minor mistake.
On their way to yet another top four finish, there is no doubt that Atlético’s only goal in the past few weeks has been to snatch a silver medal from their bitter local rivals.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen, Kunde, Araujo, Alonso, Balde, De Jong, Busquets, Gavi, Rafinha, Lewandowski, Torres
Subscriptions: Faty, Garcia, Kessy, Pedri
Atlético Madrid: Oblak, Molina, Savic, Jimenez, Hermoso, Carrasco, Lemar, De Paul, Witsel, Griezmann, Correa
Subscriptions: Region, Saul, Mora, Barrios
Goals: Torres (44′)
Yellow cards: Barcelona: Alonso, Busquets, Rafinha, Gavi – Atlético Madrid: Griezmann, Savic, Morata, Reguilon, Barrios, Jimenez, Saul
Red cards: N/A
Judge: Jose Maria Sanchez Martinez