Under fire Gareth Bale goes under the microscope as we compare his stats from La Liga and the Champions League from this season to last and surprisingly his performances are not that different.
A third defeat in four games was another huge blow for Madrid, who led the league by four points just three weeks ago. Coach Carlo Ancelotti was consoled by his side’s much improved display in the first hour of the game compared to their wretched form in recent weeks.
However, he admitted his side wilted under the pressure of chasing an equaliser for the second time after the break.
“I think it was a mental problem not a physical one. We started looking for more difficult passes and that is why the last half-hour didn’t go like the first-half.
Suarez controlled Dani Alves’s ball over the top and fired past Iker Casillas just before the hour mark to hand Barcelona a huge win. “It is my most important goal for Barcelona so far, it has an extra meaning given the opponents that it was against,” said Suarez.
The former Liverpool star’s strike came at a crucial juncture in the game as Madrid looked the more likely to go ahead after Cristiano Ronaldo had cancelled out Jeremy Mathieu’s early opener.
Fernando Torres – who scored the final penalty against the Germans – opened the scoring in the third minute following a free-kick and Tiago doubled the advantage just before half-time, also converting from a set-piece.
This was Atletico’s first league win in four matches following three successive draws and keeps them one point behind third-placed Valencia, while Getafe slumped to a third defeat in four matches under interim coach Pablo Franco and are just four points above the relegation zone.
The former Liverpool striker brought down Dani Alves’ long ball to produce a sweet finish past Iker Casillas on 55 minutes, restoring Barça’s lead after Cristiano Ronaldo had cancelled out Jeremy Mathieu’s opener in the first half.
Madrid now have ten matches to recover their four-point deficit with Luis Enrique’s side at the top, but they have a superior head-to-head record as they beat Barça 3-1 at the Bernabeu earlier in the season.
Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid Preview
This is the pairing that will focus all attention, and demand the most attention from those involved. It also feels like a particularly delicately poised tie; not just because the two teams are so close in geography and quality, but also because they’ve had so many meetings in such a short space of time — not least in last season’s final. It is precisely why, rather than the usual cliched intangibles of a local derby, form might go out the window.
The draw for the Europa League quarter-finals took place on Friday afternoon with defending champions Sevilla’s tie against Zenit St Petersburg the standout clash.
The pair have both won the tournament in the past with Sevilla winning the competition three times previously, while Zenit’s sole triumph came in 2008.
The odds are looking ominous for Zenit who have won only twice in 14 encounters with Spanish sides, and are without a victory in their last seven games against La Liga opponents.
The quarter-final first legs will be played on April 16, with the return fixtures scheduled a week later.
Barcelona defender Thomas Vermaelen hopes to make his long-awaited debut with the Catalan giants in April after a nine-month injury lay-off. The former Arsenal captain has been out of action since sustaining a hamstring tear last summer while playing for Belgium at the 2014 FIFA World Cup™.
Vermaelen moved to Barça last summer in a £15m deal, and the injury has kept him waiting to make his first appearance with his new club.
Atletico Madrid progressed to the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals for the second successive season after squeezing past Bayer Leverkusen 3-2 on penalties after the scores were locked at 1-1 on aggregate.
The Spanish La Liga champions won 1-0 on the night thanks to Mario Suarez’s deflected first-half strike in 120 minutes short on clear-cut chances. And after a topsy turvy shootout including five missed penalties, Stefan Kiessling blazed Leverkusen’s final effort over the bar to hand Atletico a place in the last eight.