FC Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid FREE

It was the third successive league game in which Messi has netted a direct free-kick - the first time he has achieved that feat - and Barca could have had more at the end of a first half in which Atletico failed to muster a shot on target.

Lionel Messi passed another career landmark on Sunday when he scored his 600th career goal as Barcelona beat Atletico Madrid in La Liga.

Messi's moment of inspiration earned Barca a 1-0 victory over second-placed Atleti at the Camp Nou and put them eight points clear with 11 games left - an advantage never overturned in the history of La Liga. After the win, Barcelona still sits at the top of the table with 69 points, while Atletico has 61 points. It's a question of playing as we did in the second half for 90 minutes. With the stakes higher than ever before this season, Ernesto Valverde, during his pre-match press conference, acknowledged the importance of three points in such a game at this stage of the campaign.

Atletico Madrid were up for it against Barcelona, physically making it hard for Barcelona to create chances.

We have become so accustomed to Lionel Messi scoring great goals through his career that we hardly blink when he scores one now; he has an ability to make the extraordinary look ordinary.

Costa did find substitute Kevin Gameiro late on, but the Frenchman's effort was ruled out for offside.

Atletico Madrid's frontline of Antoine Griezmann and Diego Costa will be relishing their Camp Nou chance
Atletico Madrid's frontline of Antoine Griezmann and Diego Costa will be relishing their Camp Nou chance. PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU

"That's how you win leagues, by suffering, when you are not 100 per cent but getting the best out of your players".

Antoine Griezmann certainly couldn't have played any worse at a ground that is rumoured to be his home from the 2018/19 season, and he will have seen, again, at first hand, the genius of Messi.

Seven of Griezmann's 15 league goals this season have come in the last two games as the forward has rediscovered his lethal touch.

Atletico Madrid deserve credit for being in the title equation this season, but if they actually want to start winning titles, they need to show a lot more attacking verve in these games.

Barcelona host Chelsea on March 14 in the second leg of their last-16 clash, having drawn the first game at Stamford Bridge last month.

Diego Simeone has just two wins to his name in Atletico Madrid's last 23 matches against Barcelona in all competitions, with 12 defeats and eight draws, while he remains winless in eight matches against the Catalan club.

  • Zachary Reyes