Five things we noticed: Atlético v Barcelona

Atlético Madrid and Barcelona served up a sumptuous spectacle on Saturday in a 1-1 draw that left plenty to discuss; UEFA.com runs through the talking points.

Luis Suárez celebrates his equaliser for Barcelona against Atlético
Luis Suárez celebrates his equaliser for Barcelona against Atlético ©AFP/Getty Images

Messi never tires
Many wondered how Lionel Messi would perform after an exhausting, emotional week on international duty – but clearly they need not have worried. The Argentina forward booked his ailing team a FIFA World Cup place with a hat-trick away to Ecuador on Tuesday and then faced a tiring trip back from Quito, yet he raced out of the blocks in Madrid. Close to scoring in the very first minute, the Barça No10 crashed a free-kick against Jan Oblak's crossbar in the second half and struck fear into the Rojiblancos' defence throughout.

Watch Saúl's stunner against Bayern
Watch Saúl's stunner against Bayern

Better call Saúl
Some players were just born for the grand occasions – and Saúl Ñíguez deserves a place high up the list. The Atlético midfielder has made a habit of scoring great goals in big games, conjuring a work of art against Bayern in the UEFA Champions League semi-finals in 2015/16 and putting his side 1-0 up away to Real Madrid at the same stage last term. He also got Spain off the mark in this summer's UEFA European Under-21 Championship before finishing as top scorer, and the man from Elche was at it again on Saturday. Beating Marc-André ter Stegen with an excellent right-footed shot, Saúl set up what would have been a notable victory.

Barça refuse to be beaten
Having strung together nine consecutive wins in all competitions, Barcelona found themselves in an unfamiliar position as the clock ticked down in Madrid. Trailing 1-0, the visitors seemed destined for a first competitive defeat this term – until Luis Suárez had the final say with eight minutes remaining. "After going the entire game a goal down, this was not a bad point against a team that will fight for the Liga title," said the Uruguay forward, whose equaliser means that Barça now lead Madrid by five points, and Atleti by six. "Everyone knows that Atlético defend brilliantly and have a top goalkeeper."

Jan Oblak was in superb form for Atlético
Jan Oblak was in superb form for Atlético©AFP/Getty Images

Keepers catch the eye
Oblak certainly excelled, but he was far from alone in game that provided a goalkeeping masterclass at both ends. Some of the most highly rated players in world football were parading their talents at the Estadio Metropolitano, yet it was the men between the posts who ended up turning heads. Ter Stegen and his Slovenian counterpart made a whole string of sensational stops, and it was down to them that an absorbing game produced just two goals. Together, the pair have conceded just eight times in 16 Liga outings this term.

Valverde's variations
Barcelona's plans for the season took an early blow when summer signing Ousmane Dembélé was struck down with a hamstring injury in mid-September. Gone was the player charged with replacing Neymar at the left tip of the Catalan club's 4-3-3 formation – the French international ruled out until 2018 – but coach Ernesto Valverde persisted with the formation in the first few weeks. More recently, the man nicknamed 'Txingurri' ('Ant' in Basque) has modified his approach, and against Atlético he opted for 4-1-4-1, fielding Luis Suárez as the lone striker. The Barça No9 ultimately secured his team a point, but what Valverde does next remains to be seen.

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