One of the most intriguing and potentially spectacular ties of the UEFA Champions League quarter-final took place on Tuesday evening, as Barcelona hosted Atletico Madrid.
At half-time the score remained 0-0, with clear chances few and far between. David Villa missed an early opportunity for Atletico, while Iniesta saw a shot blocked last-ditch at the other end. A fantastic Diego strike on the angle opened the game up somewhat, with Barcelona hitting back through Neymar to record a 1-1 draw.
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Quick first-half analysis
Atletico started the game pressing high up the pitch, penning Barcelona back in their own defensive third whenever possible and forcing Pinto into several poor clearances.
A stronger period of play from the home side ensued after the 20 minute mark or so, whereby Iniesta and Messi managed to create a series of opportunities, but a combination of last-ditch defending and off-target finishing kept the scoreline at 0-0.
Pique's injury might have been important for Barcelona, but Marc Bartra has been excellent since coming on for him. Diego Costa's injury for Atleti meant a shape change in attack and they haven't created any clear chances on goal since Villa's fourth-minute chance, scuffed wide.
It's been tense, tight and relatively even, with Barcelona dominating possession and perhaps edging play overall.
Quick second-half analysis
Atletico's goal came after a period of Barcelona pressure which yielded little in the way of clear goalscoring chances.
After the game's first strike, Atletico attempted to sit back more and deny Barcelona room to play in the final third, maintaining a tight defensive line around the edge of their own penalty box. A number of fouls committed in their own half could have yielded more cards, particularly for Koke who had already been booked, though Andres Iniesta might also have seen a second yellow for a dive.
Iniesta, though, was the catalyst for Barca's revival. He altered the tempo with quick, incisive passing and direct dribbling, easing his way past challenges to open space for team-mates. His ball through to Neymar for the equaliser was exquisite.
Despite relentless late pressure, the second goal wouldn't come—another draw between these two sides.
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