Barcelona head coach – Xavi has revealed that his side suffered to secure a narrow victory against their bitter rivals – Atletico Madrid on Sunday, but claimed it gives the team a huge confidence to forge ahead in the league.
The La Liga round of 16 match between Barcelona and Athletico Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitana in Madrid, Spain, was always going to be difficult for both teams.
Barcelona had a great chance to maintain its position at the top of the Spanish premier League.
However, Athletico Madrid was fighting for a top-four spot because they are now behind Barcelona, Real Madrid, Real Sociedad, and Real Betis and needed to win by a large margin to close the gap.
It was expected that Athletico Madrid’s hitmen, Joao Felix and Antoine Griezmann, would receive the same directive from their Coach, Diego Someone, to guarantee that they delivered the most points, but Barcelona’s defenders complicated things for the duo.
Ansu Fati, a diminutive playmaker for Barcelona, had a chance to score for his club in the fifth minute of the first half of the game, but Athletico Madrid defenders thwarted his efforts by stripping him of the ball in the 18-yard box.
In the 22nd minute of the first half, a superb trio consisting of Pedro, Gavi, and Ousmanne Dembele gave Barcelona the lead.
Three minutes to end of the first half, Athletico Madrid’s Joao Felix and Antoine Griezmann made a brilliant combination, but an alert Barcelona goalkeeper punched the ball to a corner kick.
Barcelona nearly made it two with a corner kick in the 72nd minute of the second half, but José Montero, the center referee, ruled it out for an offside.
In the third minute of extra time in the second half, Antoine Griezmann made a desperate attempt to tie the score, but Franck Kessie of Barcelona, who was playing extremely well thwarted his effort.
“Well, it means a lot of course, three points is very important for us. It gives us confidence and morale to prepare for the next games. Its a very important game in a difficult stadium, we suffered, we’ve to be very honest but the three points is very important for us.” – Xavi noted after the game
"It gives us confidence"
— Xavi on Barça's win over Atlético Madrid pic.twitter.com/oF3PwATtl2
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) January 9, 2023