Five things we learned from Barca's win at Atletico

Lionel Messi struck a late winner for the second straight weekend as Barcelona defeated LaLiga title rivals Atletico Madrid 2-1 at the Vicente Calderon.

The Argentinian's 20th league goal of the season, which came after Diego Godin's header cancelled out Rafinha's opener, saw Atleti slip further behind in the race to pip Barca, Real Madrid and Sevilla to the championship.

Here we detail five things we learned from the encounter.

ATLETI UNABLE TO OVERCOME THEIR BARCELONA HOODOO

It may be their cross-city rivals who have denied them in the Champions League final twice in the past three years, but it is Barcelona who Atletico Madrid fans must be truly sick of. It was the Catalans who knocked them out of the Copa Del Rey earlier this month and this victory extended their unbeaten run over them to 20 domestic games. Then there is Messi. He has now scored 22 times in 22 LaLiga games against Diego Simeone's side, whose bogey team may have ended their title aspirations before March.

BARCA STILL NOT RIGHT, BUT MESSI'S BRILLIANCE ENDURES

The scars from the 4-0 drubbing Paris St Germain inflicted on Barcelona earlier this month seemed to remain as Luis Enrique's men often looked like a team lacking belief and vigour.

It took half-an-hour for their much-vaunted strikeforce to make their first impact, their first goal would not have looked out of place in a Sunday League game and their key man Messi was largely anonymous. Yet, with four minutes to go, it was the 29-year-old who reacted to apply a late winner for the second week running, this one his 20th LaLiga goal of the season - a figure he has now reached for nine successive campaigns. As ever, Barca can continue to rely on their talisman.

BARCA MADE THE RIGHT CALL IN KEEPING HOLD OF TER STEGEN

Last summer Barcelona had both Claudio Bravo and Marc-Andre ter Stegen in their squad and though the former was their LaLiga stopper-of-choice, they can have few regrets about offloading him to Manchester City and sticking with the German. While Bravo, 33, has endured an error-prone time under former Barca boss Pep Guardiola, Ter Stegen has thrived back in Catalonia. He made big saves in either half here from Antoine Griezmann, and the first was a terrific display of agility as the Frenchman let fly from range.

RAFINHA GAMBLE PAYS OFF FOR LUIS ENRIQUE

Twelve days on from their Paris horrorshow, Luis Enrique had an interesting selection dilemma for their next away game. In a choice between Rafinha and Ivan Rakitic to partner Andres Iniesta in midfield, he perhaps surprisingly opted for the Brazilian while deploying a back three in defence. Barca still dominated possession without Rakitic in the team and Rafinha was in the right place at the right time to score his first league goal since October to break the deadlock in the 64th minute.

ATLETI LACKING THEIR RECENT ATTACKING FLAIR

Simeone's team certainly created chances but there was a lack of spark for a team that had scored 11 times in their previous three fixtures. Their goal was typical of previous seasons - a Koke free-kick that Godin nodded in - rather than being one befitting their recent free-scoring performances. Griezmann did have opportunities only to find Ter Stegen in inspired form, though Simeone will have wanted more from Yannick Carrasco, Kevin Gameiro - who had scored five times this month - and substitute Fernando Torres, particularly against a Barca defence that looked vulnerable in the opening exchanges.


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