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Barcelona formation switch meant to confuse Atletico Madrid - Luis Enrique

Barcelona pick up an important win over Atletico as they look to keep pace with Real Madrid at the top of La Liga.

Luis Enrique says the decision to shake up Barcelona's formation in the 2-1 win against Atletico Madrid was in search of more control in midfield.

Lionel Messi scored the winning goal in the 86th minute after a Diego Godin header had previously cancelled out Rafinha's opener.

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One of the major talking points from the Vicente Calderon, though, was the Blaugrana's decision to begin the game with what appeared to be a back three comprised of Gerard Pique, Samuel Umtiti and Jeremy Mathieu.

"It's a way of mixing things up so the rival doesn't know what you're going to do," Luis Enrique said in his postmatch news conference, before explaining the nuances of his system.

"We wanted a 3-4-3 diamond with the ball so that we could have possession and dominate the play, but it was 4-4-2 without the ball. So defending it wasn't a back three, but a back four -- when we were attacking it was a three."

Luis Enrique vs. Atleti 170226
Luis Enrique and Barcelona left the Vicente Calderon with a last-gasp win on Sunday.

Despite the change of tactics, Barca struggled to gain a foothold in a first half which saw Atletico have the better of play.

Luis Enrique felt that was down to a range of reasons, adding: "The first half was complicated because of Atletico's high pressure and the condition of the pitch -- although the condition of the pitch did help with our two goals.

"In the second half they couldn't maintain that level of pressure. We were better in the second half, too, having a lot of the ball. We lost the ball a lot before then."

Following a difficult period, which has seen questions raised about Luis Enrique's future and the morale in the dressing room, the Barca coach said the win will give a confidence boost to his "united" players ahead of back-to-back home games against Sporting Gijon and Celta Vigo.

"The players' attitude was good," he said. "Everyone was together and the [win] was deserved. We're happy -- the win gives everyone confidence."

With Real Madrid, Sevilla, Barca and Atleti all in the title mix, this was a result which leaves the latter with plenty to do if they are to end the season as champions.

"I'm satisfied with a win against a direct opponent, but we have a long way to go,'' Luis Enrique warned. "It is important to climb away from Atletico and get closer to where we want to be. We are keeping the pressure on.''

For the hosts, it was a familiar tale against Barca and Messi, who now has 22 league goals in as many games against them.

Both goals were conceded in disappointing fashion for Atletico manager Diego Simeone after Rafinha capitalised on two blocked attempts, while Messi was somehow left all alone late on to finish after the home side had failed to clear a free kick he had taken.

"The match would be lost by the team that made an error,'' Simeone admitted in his news conference.

"It's possible that we didn't clear in the best way a play with many rebounds in the box. They took advantage of this situation.''

Samuel Marsden covers Barcelona for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @SamuelMarsden.

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