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Messi's show, Aubadependencia, Utd attack MIA... Things learned from last night

In a tight and tense night of football, Barcelona beat Atletico Madrid 0-1 at the Wanda Metropolitano, Man United and Arsenal both secure a 2-2 draw. So what did we learn from the games last night?

Messi is not bound by the laws of our reality

You know that one Arjen Robben goal that he scored a bunch and it became sort of a running joke? That “how does he keep on doing it” thing? Robben had 210 career goals so we did see his trademark a bunch of times so he made sense.
Leo Messi now has 614 career goals for Barcelona and has more than one signature goal that we have seen time and time again. Today we saw the classic one-two at the top of the box and the curving slapshot into the side of the net.
That’s an absurdly hard goal to pull off because you need to be able to bend the ball far enough away from the goal that the keeper doesn’t dive straight away, but the shot has to be hit hard enough to bend back and hit the net before they’ve moved over.
So the goal is hard enough to pull off, but to do it against arguably the best goalkeeper in the world? In the 86th minute of a top-of-the-table title clash? At a ground, you’ve never scored at before? With your team struggling in the attack?
Look, he’s the best player in the world. He is not bound by the laws of our reality.

Poor Cholo "Diego Simeone"
Cholo Simeone has twice dropped Barcelona out of the Champions League, in 2014 and 2016. But in La Liga the Argentine coach has never beaten them, if you can believe it. In 16 matches, he’s drawn five and lost 11. Only Marcelino has played Barcelona that many times without beating them. It’s an absurd run.
More absurd is Barcelona’s consistent late heroics away to Atlético Madrid. In their last four trips to Madrid to take on Simeone’s men, they’ve scored a tying goal or a winner after the 80th minute. Diego Simeone has consistently seen some incredible gameplans torn asunder at the last second by the Blaugrana, often by Messi, and today was no exception.
Atleti were the sharper side, the better side. Ter Stegen was much the busier goalkeeper than Oblak, yet in the end Barcelona won the game. He beat the Blaugrana, but yet again he couldn’t beat Messi and Ter Stegen.

Ter Stegen monumental 
As much as Messi played the starring role in the end, the best supporting actor in Barcelona’s big win was their German goalkeeper. Ter Stegen was monumental in the first-half, diving all around his goal to stifle an irrepressible Atlético Madrid. He made several key stops, with two standing out. First from a Mario Hermoso shot where he saved the shot with the inside of his standing leg; and later when Alvaro Morata headed low on target, Ter Stegen flew across goal to palm it up and away in Gordon Banks-style.
It’s amusing that Ter Stegen is rarely mentioned alongside Alisson and Jan Oblak, because one could argue he’s better than both in terms of his actual performances (with defensive stats being more about the team defence as a whole and needing defenders and midfielders to help).

Arsenal’s over-reliance on Auba a major cause for concern
Of Arsenal’s 20 Premier League goals this season, Aubameyang has netted 10 of them, bagging another brace this afternoon to keep his side alive and competitive. The Gunners, historically, have always boasted a prolific No. 9 on the books, just consider the likes of Thierry Henry and Robin van Persie. Aubameyang is the latest to pitch up on that star-studded conveyor belt.
The 2018/19 Golden Boot winner kicked off his game with a retaken penalty kick, silencing Tim Krul in the 29th minute to drag Arsenal back into the match, before once again levelling proceedings with a well-struck right-footed effort just after the restart. It will certainly sooth frustrations in north London that, at least, they have a competent goalscorer, but they must now look elsewhere on the pitch for someone to step up, and not just their captain.
Such is the influence of Aubameyang, he is a trusty source of goals, fulcrum and leader all rolled into one. It is certainly a blessing to have such a unique and dominating player at the club, but that can often prove to be a double-edged sword as Arsenal are becoming more and more reliant on their skipper to rescue them.
That was certainly the case once again this afternoon as Arsenal’s grandmaster goalscorer restored parity twice, though he was ultimately unable to help Ljungberg avoid a banana skin debut in the dugout.

Man United's front three had on off-day
The Red Devils' front three weren't clinical enough in front of goal against Aston Villa. They created chances throughout the game, only to be unsuccessful due to the lack of quality in the final third.
Daniel James was the most visible threat in the first half for the hosts, as he used his pace and link-up play to a good effect. He supplied several balls into the box, but none of the Manchester United's front-men were available to attack off them.
Marcus Rashford constantly tried to drive the team forward and run at the away side's defence. But the English international was unsuccessful due to lack of quality passes and link-up play in the final third. He didn't get many visible opportunities to shoot in the game.
Anthony Martial, on the other hand, had a great chance to win the game for Manchester United, but he scooped the ball over the goal in an attempt to lob it over the goalkeeper. Apart from that, the French international was largely invisible throughout the match.
The Manchester United forwards need to be more clinical and cohesive if they are to gather maximum points from the gruelling festive period.
With this draw, Manchester United are 9th on the table with 18 points. Considering the recent sackings of Unai Emery and Mauricio Pochettino, the Red Devils boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be under tremendous pressure to deliver positive results against Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City - which could ultimately decide his future as the United boss.

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