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Marcador del partit

  • Date: Thursday, 21 Dec
  • Competition: ???label.competicio0???
  • Stadium: Camp Nou, Barcelona


  • FC Barcelona: 1
  • At.Madrid: 1

Match report

Match Report

The goals

1-0, Ronaldinho (min. 40)
1-1, Agüero (min, 60)

Less than they deserved (1-1)

Despite playing better and creating more chances, Barca had to settle for a draw against Atlético Madrid tonight. Barca's goal came from a spectacular Ronaldinho free kick but Argentine starlet Agüero equalised with Atlético's only clear chance of the match.

Barca were looking to end the year with a win that would also serve to break a poor run of results against Atlético Madrid in recent years. But despite a performance that, at times, reached a brilliant level, Barca were unable to make their dominance count. Atlético defended well and scored with one of their few approximations to the Barca goalmouth. Yet another superb goal from Ronaldinho gave Barca the lead in the first half but Agüero equalised in the second half in a move that appeared out of nowhere, Barca remain in second place three points behind Sevilla and with a game in hand.

No sign of a hangover

Rijkaard was forced to make quite a few changes, starting with an unfamiliar defensive back four of Belletti, Puyol, Thuram and Oleguer. Up front, Iniesta took the place of Giuly on the right wing. Atlético Madrid made full use of the psychological advantage of their two league wins last season and came out looking to attack. The first chance of the match came within the opening couple of minutes when Gudjohnsen placed a well weighted pass into the path of Deco who shot low and hard from the edge of the box.

However, Franco was well positioned to block. The crowd had to wait just five minutes for the next opportunity. Belletti crossed from the right and a poor headed clearance from Pablo was met on the volley by Xavi, but his shot swept inches wide of the post. All in all there was a good tempo to the opening quarter of an hour and most definitely no sign of a jaded performance from Barca.

Barca continued to press but some good defending from the visitors restricted them to three half chances in the next half hour. First, in the 19th minute, Ronaldinho picked out Iniesta on the right but the midfielder's cross was too fiercely hit for either Xavi or Gudjohnsen to make contact. Some thirteen minutes later, Iniesta burst into the box to receive a beautifully cushioned header from Gudjohnsen. Iniesta appeared to be nudged off the ball by Ze Castro but the referee was having nothing of it. In the 40th minute, a beautiful cross from Ronaldinho found Xavi unmarked on the penalty spot but his well placed header was rather fortunately deflected by Franco with his left foot. However, Atlético Madrid were also creating the occasional half chance. Their best moment came in the 27th minute when a splendid free kick by Antonio López, which was always swerving away from Valdés, was well blocked with both hands by the Barca keeper.

However, Barca always looked the most likely to score and once again it was down to Ronaldinho to convert Barca's dominance into a 1-0 lead. His free kick on the edge of the box on the right of the Barca attack sailed over the defensive wall and curled clear of Leo Franco into the far corner. In fact it should have been 2-0 on the stroke of half time. A great cross-field pass from Belletti found Ronaldinho, who chested the ball a full twelve meters or more into the path of Gudjohnsen, who will have been disappointed not to have scored.

Atlético capitalise on their one clear chance

The opening minutes of the second half lacked the flow of the first 45 minutes but with Atlético Madrid opting for a more adventurous 4-3-3 formation, the game soon opened up and the chances stared to appear. However, just as Barca were finding more space, the gamble paid off for the visitors. In the 60th minute, Agüero beat the offside trap to latch onto Luccin's nicely judged through ball, penetrate into the box and beat Valdés with a shot confidently hit with the outside of his right foot. The Barca keeper did well to get his left hand to the shot but could only watch helplessly as the ball rolled into the corner of the net.

Thuram had to retire injured and was replaced by Giuly - a clear demonstration that Rijkaard was not content to accept the draw. In the 68th minute, Barca could - and should - have gone back into the lead. An out-swinging corner was met at the near post by Motta but his powerfully struck header went agonisingly inches over the bar. Both sides continued to look for the winner and the best chance in the remaining twenty minutes fell to Santi Ezquerro, who had replaced Gudjohnsen with twenty minutes to go.

A beautiful dummy by Deco allowed the ball to pass through to Ezquerro on the edge of the box but the former Athletic Bilbao forward was unable to get the ball quickly enough from under his feet and his subsequently fumbled shot rolled past the post.


A chance to help deprived children

On Thursday night the fans will get a chance to take part in the annual campaign to collect Christmas presents for deprived children - 'Un somni per un regal'. Three collection points will be set up around the stadium so that fans can all play their part in making this worthy cause a great success.

Back to the league

Barca return to the bread and butter of the league season tonight just days after their Japanese adventure. The opponents are Atlético Madrid, an unpredictable side who have been especially dangerous in the Nou Camp in recent years.

The last league game of 2006 kicks off tonight at 10 pm in the Nou Camp against Atlético Madrid. A win for Barca will open up a useful lead over most of the chasing pack and break the losing tendency of recent seasons against Atlético. Just the right morale boost after the disappointment in Japan.

Many changes: The squad list announced by Frank Rijkaard on Wednesday contained a number of surprises. Reserve team youngsters Marc Crosas and Olmo, both of whom have already made their first team debuts and were included in the Barca squad for the Japan trip, have been rewarded with a place in tonight's squad. Also named was Javier Saviola, who was given the medical all-clear just before the World Club Cup semi-final.

Rested players: Apart from the injured Zambrotta, Eto'o and Messi, the manager has decided to rest Edmilson, Márquez and Gio. Edmilson has been suffering from a stomach bug which has left him feeling a little off-colour while the remaining two played the full 180 minutes in Japan.

The Aguirre touch: Javier Aguirre, who took on the job of managing Atlético Madrid after some highly successful years with Osasuna, has the declared aim of taking Atlético back into Europe. For the moment things are going more or less to plan with the team hovering around the Champions League positions. However, the inconsistency that has dogged the team in recent seasons refuses to go away, so much so that the side has actually achieved more points away from home this season than in the Vicente Calderón.

Ones to watch: The principal threat will come from club captain Fernando Torres. But he's not the only one. The Barca defence will have to keep a close on men such as Agüero, one of the star signings of the close season, and Maniche. The Portuguese international is one of the driving forces of the team in midfield and is dangerous for his runs into the box and his shooting ability.

The precedents: Despite the Club's dominance of the league, Barca has not managed a win against Atlético in the last two seasons. Last year Atlético won both matches while in the previous season Barca had a settle for a single point in the Vicente Calderón. However, Barca's excellent home record this season indicates that tonight could very well see a turning point in the Club's fortunes.  

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