Barca broken as Atleti reach semis

Antoine Griezmann scored a brace as Atletico Madrid defeated Barcelona 2-0 on Wednesday to eliminate the holders and reach the Champions League semi-finals.

Barca were full-strength for the trip to the Vicente Calderon as Atleti looked to offset Fernando Torres’ suspension with a switch to a 4-4-2 formation, which saw Saul Niguez come into midfield and Yannick Carrasco partner Griezmann up top.

Having lost the first leg 2-1, Atleti made their intentions known from the first kick as they pressed high up the pitch and peppered Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s goal with snapshots.

Their forward-thinking approach could’ve been considered risky before Barca’s dip in form, but the Catalans continued to toil, with their first shot on target not coming until three minutes before the break.

Indeed, Atleti did not let up in their efforts and went ahead in both the match and the tie as Saul’s pinpoint cross was powerfully glanced home by an unmarked Griezmann.

The status-quo was carried into the restart as Atleti wasted no time in almost scoring a second. A through ball into the Barca box appeared to be too strong for Koke but slowed down just before it reached Ter Stegen, yet the midfielder’s cutback was just about cut out by Gerard Pique.

Staying in La Blaugrana’s box, and Lucas Hernandez sent a looping header towards Ter Stegen’s goal, which the goalkeeper could only stand and watch as it clipped the crossbar.

That proved to be the straw which broke Luis Enrique’s back as he promptly brought on former Atleti favourite Arda Turan, and the Turk would have felt a degree of solace at helping his side improve in the latter stages, having struggled to impose himself before the game.

As it happened, Jordi Alba got to the right-hand byline and clipped a low ball across the face of Jan Oblak’s goal, but it was blocked by Gabi, with Suarez shaping up for a tap-in.

Suarez then showed wonderful strength and poise to turn Diego Godin on a sixpence in the Atleti box, but his toepoked finish was straight at Oblak, and the visitors’ desperation to pull one back was countered by left-back Filipe Luis keeping his composure all the way into the Barca box and seeing his cross blocked by Andres Iniesta’s extended arm.

It was left to Griezmann to not only squeeze the spot-kick past Ter Stegen or secure victory on the night but send the holders packing, although Barca should’ve been awarded a penalty in the dying embers as Angel Correa stopped Iniesta’s shot with his arm, only for the referee to award just the free kick.

Nonetheless, Atleti held on for a repeat of their 2013-14 quarter-final against La Blaugrana, who in turn are the latest winners of the competition to fail in defending the trophy.

Atletico Madrid 2-0 Barcelona (3-2 agg.)

Griezmann 36, 88

Atletico Madrid: Oblak; Juanfran, Godin, Lucas, Filipe; Augusto (Savic 90), Gabi, Koke, Saul; Carrasco (Thomas 74), Griezmann (Correa 90)

Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Alves (Sergi 64), Pique, Mascherano, Alba; Busquets, Rakitic (Arda 64), Iniesta; Messi, Suarez, Neymar

Referee: Rizzoli [ITA]