Messi's dramatic Goal breaks Atletico's Heart
Lionel Messi scored a late wonder goal at the Stade Metropolitano to give Barca the needed three points
A late wonder strike from Lionel Messi earned Barcelona a dramatic 1-0 victory over Atletico Madrid in Antoine Griezman's return to the Estadio Wanda Metropolitano on a rainy Sunday night in Madrid.
It was a typically intense 90 minutes of football between two of Spain's giants, with the home side having two golden chances in the first half, but they were unable to find a way past Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
While Griezmann was a non-factor in front of the Wanda Metropolitano, who lustily jeered and whistled their former French striker every time he touched the ball, Messi, as he so often does, came to the rescue and fired in an 86th minute rocket to earn the Catalan side all three points.
Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde had to make some changes due to the injuries to Ousmane Dembele, Nelson Semedo and Jordi Alba, plus the suspension of Sergio Busquets, so Sergi Roberto and Junior Firpo lined up at full-back, while Ivan Rakitic joined Arthur and Frenkie de Jong in midfield.
Meanwhile, for Atletico manager Diego Simeone, Diego Costa, Stefan Savic and Jose Maria Gimenez were all out injured, but it was Saul slotting in at left-back instead of Renan Lodi that had everyone's attention when the teamsheets came out.
Barcelona got an early scare when a Mario Hermoso cross defected off the foot of Junior Firpo and glanced off the post and out.
Atletico had the visitors pegged back, as Suarez, Messi and Griezmann were virtually non-existent.
They were no match for Atletico's intensity and the Colchoneros should have taken a lead when Joao Felix picked out Hermoso, but somehow Ter Stegen made a sublime save to keep it scoreless.
Valverde's men didn't conjure up their first chance until the 25-minute mark when a Suarez dummy set up Rakitic, but the Croatia international fired right at Atletico No.1 Jan Oblak.
Ter Stegen was called on again to save Barcelona's blushes, this time on a bouncing Alvaro Morata header off a corner kick that the German stopper blocked with his arm.
The woodwork also had to come to Atletico's rescue, as Gerard Pique rang a shot off the crossbar.
The second half took the shape of Barcelona dominating possession but finding no way past the Atletico defence.
Messi cut a frustrated figure; either remonstrating with the likes of Junior Firpo or slumping his shoulders with every missed connection in the final third.
Simeone was first to make a change, with Vitolo on for Joao Felix and the Atletico attack surged forward.
Angel Correa sent a blazing effort goalward, only for Sergi Roberto to play the role of fireman to clear the ball away from danger.
Arturo Vidal was called on by Valverde to replace Arthur, while Thomas Lemar came in for Correa for the hosts.
Later it was Samuel Umtiti on for an injured Pique, as the two sides continued searching for a winner.
Things appeared headed for a draw, but Messi had other ideas and he finished off a slick one-two combination with Suarez by one-timing a shot in past Oblak to give Barcelona a golden victory on the eve of the Ballon d'Or announcement.