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Messi scores 700th but Barca’s title hopes take colossal hit vs. Atletico

Barcelona’s title hopes are hanging by a thread after they dropped points for the third time in four games on Tuesday, twice giving up the lead as they drew 2-2 with Atletico Madrid.

Barca twice led at Camp Nou thanks to Diego Costa’s own goal and Lionel Messi’s penalty, which was the 700th goal of his career for club and country, but Atletico replied with two penalties of their own, both scored by Saul Niguez.

The point moves Barca within one of leaders Real Madrid, but they will fall four points behind if Zinedine Zidane’s side win their game in hand at home to Getafe on Thursday.

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Positives

It’s difficult to highlight anything because the three points were so vital here, but Riqui Puig, starting the biggest game of his short Barca career to date, at least showed there are reasons to be hopeful the future.

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Negatives

It’s difficult to see Barca reclaiming their title from here. A Madrid win on Thursday will complete a six-point swing since La Liga restarted earlier this month. That would mean Zidane’s men would have to drop points twice in their final five games, while to capitalise Barca would have to win all of theirs, starting with Villarreal on Sunday. It doesn’t look good.

Luis Suarez showed at the weekend why he’s still so important to Barcelona — and he is — with two goals. But this was 90 minutes to demonstrate why he’s also becoming a hindrance. At 33, the club need a long-term replacement and he needs to accept a reduced role.

Dan Thomas is joined by Craig Burley, Shaka Hislop and a host of other guests every day as football plots a path through the coronavirus crisis. Stream on ESPN+ (U.S. only).

Manager rating out of 10

4 — Quique Setien surprised with a four-man midfield, handing Puig a second start in the league this season, and Barca looked OK in phases. However, the coach failed to get a grip on the game in the second half. He…