La Liga

Barcelona 4-2 Atletico Madrid: Player ratings as the Blaugrana move into top four

Grey Whitebloom
Barcelona survived some nervy moments in a 4-2 win over Atletico Madrid on Sunday afternoon
Barcelona survived some nervy moments in a 4-2 win over Atletico Madrid on Sunday afternoon / Eric Alonso/GettyImages

Barcelona leapfrogged Atletico Madrid into La Liga's top four with a thrilling 4-2 home victory on Sunday afternoon.

A thoroughly engrossing contest was robbed of the cageyness that can seep into a high stakes match by a rapid exchange of goals in the first ten minutes.

Yannick Carrasco broke the deadlock with a crisply taken finish, teed up by former Barcelona favourite Luis Suarez, moments before Jordi Alba swiftly and sweetly struck an equaliser.

On a second debut to remember, Adama Traore tormented Mario Hermoso throughout the first half, eventually teeing up a header for the diminutive Gavi as Barcelona took a 21st-minute lead.

The early threat Diego Simeone's visitors had carried, particularly through Joao Felix, faded as the Argentine manager repeatedly tweaked and tinkered his side's system. Initially lining up in a 4-5-1 off the ball, Atletico shifted between a 4-4-2 and 5-3-2 in a desperate bid to quell a Barcelona side playing their best football of the season.

Ronald Araujo made it 3-1 on the cusp of half-time as Atletico conceded their eighth set piece goal of the season, snaffling up a rebound.

Having bolstered the flank which Traore mauled in the first half during the interval, Barcelona simply skipped down Atletico's opposite wing through Gavi and Frenkie de Jong. Los Rojiblancos' unusually porous backline conspired to let Gavi's cutback bobble to Dani Alves for a fizzing drive into the bottom corner four minutes after the break.

The ever-proactive Simeone made a triple change thereafter, but it was one of the players (surprisingly) left on the pitch that spiced up the final half-hour as Suarez converted a 58th-minute corner.

With the deficit reduced to two, Barcelona's stranglehold of the first half had clearly slipped. Yet, this shift in balance (or anything else for that matter) offers little explanation as to why Alves sunk his studs into Carrasco's calf, leaving Barcelona down to ten men for the final 20 minutes.

Weathering the initial squall of pressure, Barcelona ceded possession to Atletico. Employing two banks of four in a block which Simeone may have cast an admiring eye to, the disadvantaged hosts blunted the reigning champions in a reversal of styles that dominated the fiery exchange of words between the two managers pre-game.

Barcelona player ratings

1. Goalkeeper & defenders

Jordi Alba
Jordi Alba celebrates Barcelona's equalising goal / Eric Alonso/GettyImages

Marc-Andre ter Stegen (GK) - 5/10 - Beaten again on his fragile right hand side.

Dani Alves (RB) - 3/10 - Undid all his good work with a boneheaded and bizarre attempted tackle.

Gerard Pique (CB) - 7/10 - Punching the ball into midfield with a purpose that permeated throughout the team.

Ronald Araujo (CB) - 6/10 - A stride behind Carrasco for the game's opening goal, Araujo took his goal well but was grateful for some generous finishing from Felix at times.

Jordi Alba (LB) - 8/10 - Superbly provided the width on the left hand side as Gavi drifted in field.

2. Midfielders

Frenkie De Jong
Frenkie de Jong started on the left of Barcelona's midfield three / Quality Sport Images/GettyImages

Pedri (CM) - 7/10 - Floating into devilish little pockets of half space, Pedri knitted the play together without being the protagonist.

Sergio Busquets (CM) - 6/10 - Not the only anchor in midfield with Alves often cropping up behind him, the club captain peppered his performance with some uncharacteristically sloppy moments.

Frenkie de Jong (CM) - 7/10 - Leading the aggressive Barcelona press, De Jong was constantly offering himself in space in midfield.

3. Forwards

Adama Traore
Adama Traore shone on his first appearance for Barcelona since leaving the club in 2015 / Quality Sport Images/GettyImages

Adama Traore (RW) - 8/10 - A menace from the off, the returning Masia graduate unleashed his expected flurry of footwork but delivered some rare end product.

Ferran Torres (ST) - 5/10 - Had his blushes spared by Araujo after fluffing his lines from close range and lazily played Suarez onside.

Gavi (LW) - 7/10 - Scuttling around the turf with his familiar bubbling exuberance.

4. Substitutes

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (ST) - 5/10

Nico Gonzalez (CM) - 6/10

Sergino Dest (RB) - 5/10

Atletico Madrid player ratings

5. Goalkeeper & defenders

Jose Maria Gimenez
Jose Maria Gimenez lining up in a defence that has conceded at least twice in each of their past five matches / Quality Sport Images/GettyImages

Jan Oblak (GK) - 4/10 - Skittish with the ball at his feet, Oblak hardly made much amends with his gloved hands.

Sime Vrsaljko (RB) - 4/10 - Hooked at half-time but hardly the prime catalyst of Atletico's two-goal deficit at the break.

Stefan Savic (CB) - 5/10 - Steered a close range header wide of the target from a corner which could have levelled the match in the first half.

Jose Maria Gimenez (CB) - 4/10 - Unable to marshal a backline that continues to be susceptible to set pieces.

Mario Hermoso (LB) - 3/10 - Left slashing at the blur that was Traore.

6. Midfielders

Thomas Lemar
Thomas Lemar is enjoying his most productive season in front of goal in Spain / Quality Sport Images/GettyImages

Rodrigo de Paul (CM) - 5/10 - Created a number of chances which weren't taken by his teammates.

Koke (CM) - 6/10 - Played a superb pass to free Suarez in the buildup for Carrasco's opener but largely outnumbered thereafter.

Thomas Lemar (CM) - 5/10 - Perhaps a little harshly grouped into the trio that were removed before the hour mark but didn't do enough to make the decision utterly egregious.

7. Forwards

Luis Suarez
Luis Suarez got on the scoresheet in his second successive appearance against his former club / Quality Sport Images/GettyImages

Yannick Carrasco (RW) - 7/10 - Shunted all over the pitch as Simeone desperately sought to solve the headache Barcelona were causing his side, Carrasco was impressive in each of his half-dozen roles.

Luis Suarez (ST) - 6/10 - On his first return to a populated Camp Nou, Suarez was a peripheral figure either side of his clinical interventions when given rare touches in the attacking third.

Joao Felix (LW) - 6/10 - Arguably Atletico's brightest spark while on the pitch but was subbed off with his side trailing for the second match on the spin.

8. Substitutes

Daniel Wass (RWB) - 4/10 - Struggled at either end of the pitch on an underwhelming debut.

Matheus Cunha (ST) - 6/10 - Added a repeated burst of urgency to Atletico's frontline.

Reinildo (LWB) - 5/10

Angel Correa (RW) - 5/10

Hector Herrera (CM) - N/A