Advantage Barca as Atleti implode

And that makes it six. Six times that a Barcelona team has bested Atletico Madrid during Luis Enrique’s tenure in all competitions. For some reason it all seems to fall to bits for Diego Simeone when these two sides meet.

No more so on Saturday, when Atletico started the match a goal up and ended it 2-1 down and two men light. It was Europe’s best defence against perhaps the most potent attacking force in football, so something had to give. And as increasingly the case, La Blaugrana came out on top in this encounter.

Enrique was the first to admit that his side had not performed as expected in the opening 15 minutes. Seemingly half-asleep, they were there for the taking and Koke took full advantage after only 10 minutes.

Barca eventually awoke from their slumber, stretched a bit then scored two contrasting yet equally great goals to put them in the ascendency. But even then, the match was still nicely poised. That was until Atletico shot themselves in both feet.

The match perhaps reflected the best and worse sides of Atletico’s game. Simone has bred a competitive and committed side who perform exceptionally when things are going for them – and they normally do.

But against such tricky opposition as Barcelona are, their over-exuberance turned to rashness as they lost two players to dangerous tackles.

Studs up, Filipe Luis put in a dangerous challenge that could so easily have crocked Lionel Messi’s knee. Not known as a dirty player, he was a bit too gung-ho in his attempt at winning back the ball.

Diego Godin was next to go and again, it was very much unlike the experienced centre-back to go charging in so wildly while booked, with no immediate danger to the goal.

Even down to nine men Simeone’s men defended as valiantly and committed as they had done throughout the match. More surprisingly, they still carried a huge threat going forward.

While Atleti were down to 10, Claudio Bravo pulled of an inexplicable save to deny Antoine Griezmann from point black range while Yannick Ferreira Carrasco strut his stuff as he made some mazy runs.

But they couldn’t quite penetrate in the way Barcelona had done. The goals they scored were indicative of the multi-faceted style of play Lucho has brought to Barcelona. The first a sustained period of patient yet relentless build up play leading to Messi grabbing an equaliser.

The second was a far more direct approach. Dani Alves played a superb long ball through ball which took the Atletico defence out of the game and found Luis Suarez who does what he has done better than most this season and found the net.

Interestingly enough, 40% of the goals Atletico have conceded this season have come in the two games they have played against Barcelona. It is once again a great show of how resolute they are defensively, having conceded only 10 goals.

But also shows just how difficult – like most teams in the League – they find it to keep out the champions. As hard as Atletico made things for themselves, it is easy to see why Barcelona are top of the pile in La Liga. And the way things are looking, they may stay there.

The implication this match has on the title race is huge. It marks a huge step towards La Liga for Barcelona, as they now hold a better head-to-head record against both Madrid clubs. With more points and a game in hand over Los Rojiblancos, this match may have already decided the title, much like it did in 2014.