It's all fun and games cheering on plucky upstarts Atlético Madrid, right up until the point they tear out your heart and play keepy-uppy with it. So excuse me if I'm not appropriately excited about Atlético's thoroughly deserved and enjoyable-for-neutrals 1-0 Champions League win over Barcelona.
In reality, Barcelona were lucky to not have been beaten by more. The Koke strike you see above was but the first burst in what was a furious first 20 minutes for the home side. That Adrián could be put in on goal from a single header off of a goal kick was the first sign that the Gerard Piqué-less Barça back line would not enjoy its best day. Even then, it appeared Barcelona would be let off the hook with Adrián's resulting shot crashing off the woodwork and out of the box.
Not so luckily, Koke controlled the rebound and slid a pass to David Villa, whose backtracking cross back into the six-yard box was a thing of beauty. Adrián unselfishly/luckily headed the ball across the goal instead of trying to score himself, and the unmarked Koke rushed onto it and slammed it home. 1-0 today, 2-1 on aggregate.
The carnage had just begun. Atlético went on to hit the post two more times in the match and had numerous chances to put the game away, but couldn't quite seal that second goal.
Not that it matters, when your defense plays like that. It's often said but rarely true that despite having overwhelming possession stats, Barcelona only threatened maybe two or three times the whole match. Normally, when Barcelona dominate the ball yet can't score, with the possession taking place in the opponent's third, the ball swinging back and forth between the left flank, the center, the right flank, and back again.
Today, Barça never enjoyed that kind of comfort on the ball. While the total possession numbers tell one story, the longest consecutive time of possession would undoubtedly tell another. It was all Barcelona could do to hold on to the ball for more than 10 seconds before a couple of the seemingly innumerable Atlético midfielders could prod it away. Atléti made a whopping 35 tackles, 11 more than their league average, and 23 interceptions. It was the textbook pressure that's seen them through to the Champions League quarter-finals and with a one point lead atop the La Liga table.
For Barcelona... at least there's still La Liga! It's not all doom and gloom. Barcelona pretty much dominated last week's leg at the Camp Nou, and will feel like the tie would've been different had any of their handful of chances there had gone in and/or if substitute Diego hadn't uncorked the goal of his life.
But it's Atlético's day, and I say congratulations. Good luck going forward, and I'll be seeing you again on May 18th.