Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Jan Oblak was highly frustrated by their tardy performance against Barcelona, as they slipped to a third straight defeat to the Blaugrana in Catalonia. He claimed that none of his colleagues performed well in the first half.
The Blaugrana started off on the front foot, and their high tempo football rewarded them with three chances in the opening 12 minutes, although none were taken. It would fall to Joao Felix to nab the eventual winner in the 28th minute.
“It hurts because I think that if we played a little in the first half we could have a chance here. We started badly, we were bad in the first half and they punished us.”
“The idea was to play to win the game and I don’t know… In the end I don’t know what happened to us, but not one of us were good in the first half, none of us wanted the ball, none of us wanted to play. It is a shame. If we played it from the beginning like in the second half, we would have had our chances.”
Atletico Madrid are yet to win against Barcelona in La Liga since Diego Simeone took over, a record that stretches back to 2006, when a Fernando Torres brace and a Maxi Rodriguez goal helped them on their way to a 3-1 victory.
“Something is happening here. Although now it’s a different stadium, but since before I was there we still haven’t won [in Barcelona]. Unfortunately, we threw away the first half but in the second we did everything to level the match, though it didn’t come off,” Oblak told Cadena Cope.
Diego Simeone explained that he was confident that things would change before too long.
“There are times when these types of situations arise that are repetitive. Life goes around and one day something important will happen to us, it already happened with that draw that gave us the La Liga title (in 2014). We’ve been doing this for several years, it’s time for it to change.”
He agreed with Oblak’s assessment of the game, although in slightly less harsh terms.
“I saw that there were two games. In the first half they were better. Despite being better, we had Molina’s play that could have been dangerous and Araujo’s, which closed off Griezmann very well. Despite not having a good first half, we had those chances. They had Joao’s one that Oblak covers,” he told Diario AS.
“In the second half the changes revitalised us, they gave dynamism in the middle and up front, Correa came on and did very well, Lino the same, Azpilicueta played as a centre-back on the right, then as a winger on the left and I think that in the second half we did deserve to score a goal. The goalkeeper made a save to prevent Memphis’ free-kick and it’s a shame that in the period when we were good and had four scoring chances we couldn’t have the effectiveness that they had in the first half.”
But he did say that Barcelona had more personality in their play in the first half.
“They started better, they had more personality with the ball, when we had it we immediately lost it, we didn’t progress the play, that’s why we suffered in the first half and that’s why it changed. The team improved and had chances to equalise in the second half.”
Atletico Madrid are now seven points behind Real Madrid and Girona, while they now lie three points back from the Blaugrana too. They do have a game in hand against Sevilla, which keeps them from being cut adrift in the title race.