Diego Simeone did not feel Atletico Madrid were any better against Barcelona on Saturday than in previous matches, with the absence of Lionel Messi being the deciding factor.
Atletico had a bad record against Barça in Simeone’s time at the club, reaching 20 winless in this match before winning 1-0 in 2020-21.
But now they are three without conceding for the blaugrana for the first time in LaLiga, after drawing 0-0 at the end of last season and winning 2-0 on Saturday.
Barça have had 70.4 percent of possession, but have only made nine shots for a total of 1.0 goals expected at the Wanda Metropolitano.
The new signing of Paris Saint-Germain Messi had scored 26 goals in 30 LaLiga games against Atleti – making more only against Sevilla (30) and Valencia (27) – and without him the lack of avant-garde was evident.
“It is the first match we have played against Barça without Messi”, said coach Simeone at a press conference. In other games there hasn’t been much difference compared to this one, but now Messi isn’t there.
31 – @athletienglishLuis Suarez has now scored against all 31 opponents he has faced @LaLigaEN (172 goals in total), scoring for the first time against FC Barcelona (two clashes). Infallible. pic.twitter.com/iEvmLHhjhb
– OptaJose (@OptaJose) October 2, 2021
Conversely, Atleti were ruthless in attack, led by former Barça superstar Luis Suarez.
He scored the lead for Thomas Lemar, who returned Suarez the favor to score against Barça for the first time, meaning he scored against all 31 opponents he faced in the Spanish top flight.
Joao Felix was also involved in both goals, with the first goal including one of four passes he completed at Suarez. He didn’t find a teammate more often.
The Portuguese international started in front of Antoine Griezmann, who failed to shoot off the bench, but Simeone was not ready to declare Joao Felix and Suarez his new first-choice front row.
“At this hour, we can’t get carried away with a match,” he said. “There is [Angel] Correa, Griezmann’s moment. He scored in the Champions League.
“We have important players. We hope they can accept that we can be a group so that we can be a team ”.