Barcelona and Atletico Madrid Draw 1-1 After Ousmane Dembele's Late Goal

Gill Clark@@gillclarkyFeatured Columnist INovember 24, 2018

MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 24: (L-R) Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona, Antoine Griezmann of Atletico Madrid during the La Liga Santander  match between Atletico Madrid v FC Barcelona at the Estadio Wanda Metropolitano on November 24, 2018 in Madrid Spain (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images)
Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Ousmane Dembele scored a late equaliser to secure a 1-1 draw for Barcelona against Atletico Madrid on Saturday.

A dull game sparked into life on 77 minutes, when Diego Costa outjumped Rafinha to head the hosts in front from Antoine Griezmann's corner.

Barcelona looked set for a second straight La Liga defeat before Dembele tucked a cool finish past Jan Oblak after Lionel Messi found the Frenchman in the penalty area.


Barcelona Must Keep Faith with Dembele

Ousmane Dembele was back in the Barcelona squad after being left out against Real Betis last time out. 

The French forward has been making headlines for his off-field behaviour, and manager Ernesto Valverde defended him ahead of the game. He said there has been some "cruelty" shown toward the 21-year-old, per Sport.

Dembele started the match on the bench but replaced Arthur on 80 minutes, as Barcelona just went behind to Costa's opening goal. It proved a crucial substitution, as Dembele produced yet another match-winning moment for the Spanish champions:

Ben Hayward @bghayward

Winners against Sevilla, Valladolid and Real Sociedad, plus late levellers versus Rayo Vallecano and Atlético now. Seven goals in 16 appearances overall. Despite everything, Ousmane Dembélé is doing just fine at Barcelona...

The Frenchman kept his composure to take a touch, which deceived Filipe Luis, and then he calmly slotted the ball past Oblak with just minutes remaining.

Opta noted how many points he's won Barcelona this season:

OptaJose @OptaJose

7 - No other player has won more points with his goals than Ousmane Dembélé in La Liga this season (seven points with five goals). Rescuer. https://t.co/36QgTjg6IF

His equaliser means Barcelona stay top of La Liga and remain a point ahead of Atletico Madrid in the title race.

Dembele can be a frustrating figure, particularly considering he was brought to Barcelona for a fee that could rise as high as £135.5 million, per BBC Sport.

He's been guilty of giving the ball away far too frequently, and striker Luis Suarez has said Dembele needs to "focus more," per Goal's Jason Jones.

However, there's no doubting the talent he possesses and the attacking threat he can bring to the Spanish champions. His goal against Atletico was another example of why Barcelona must continue to keep faith in Dembele and help him to reach his full potential at the Camp Nou.


Atletico Not Ready to Topple Barcelona as League Champs 

Atletico remain in the title race, but Saturday's draw proved they are not quite ready to take Barcelona's position as league champions.

Manager Diego Simeone has never beaten Barcelona in La Liga, and Dembele's late equaliser means he remains in search of his first win over the Catalan giants.

Atletico were without several key players for the clash. Captain Diego Godin, Jose Gimenez and Juanfran all missed out due to injury.

Yet the hosts kept the visitors at bay during a largely uneventful match. However, they also struggled to create chances, as neither side managed a shot on target in the first half:

Rik Sharma @riksharma_

First game of the season with no shots on target in the first half. Match with the least shots attempted (2) in the first half. https://t.co/fpSdhLLTsV

Atletico took the lead through Costa with a little over 10 minutes remaining. If they had held on to their lead, they would have leapfrogged Barcelona in the table.

However, Barcelona kept going, and Dembele's late goal denied Atletico what would have been a crucial victory in the title race.

ESPN's Dermot Corrigan shared his view:

Dermot Corrigan @dermotmcorrigan

This gotta be huge blow for Atletico/ Simeone. Had to be the moment to launch them at top. But instead just the same feeling of no matter what we do again.

Simeone possesses a hugely talented squad at the Wanda Metropolitano, but they lack the calibre of his 2014 title-winning team.

Atletico also don't have the same squad depth as Barcelona, and while there's no doubt they will go close this season, they don't look to have quite enough to be crowned champions.


What's Next?

Both teams are in UEFA Champions League action in midweek. Atletico Madrid host Monaco on Wednesday, while Barcelona are away at PSV Eindhoven on the same day. The two teams return to La Liga action on Sunday. Atletico are away at Girona, and Barcelona host Villarreal at the Camp Nou.