Atletico arrived at the Camp Nou on the back of eight consecutive wins but Barca halted the surge and instead restored their own lead at the top to eight points, with 11 games left to play. Between now and the end of the season, the focus will be on if Barcelona can become the first ever Spanish Invincibles.
They had not counted on the Argentine's remarkable ability to score from free kicks, however, and Messi decided the game, and quite possibly the title race, with a third exquisite set-piece goal in as many games.
But Simeone is wary of the threat posed by talisman Messi, and he said as quoted by Sport: "Facing a player like Lionel, there are no strategies, you can't control him because he's naturally gifted".
Atletico Madrid's frontline of Antoine Griezmann and Diego Costa will be relishing their Camp Nou chance. PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU
First, against Girona last weekend, he took advantage of a jumping defensive wall to fire low and hard into the bottom left corner.
A Lionel Messi freekick ensured FC Barcelona emerged victorious in a clash that was dubbed as the La Liga title decider. The visitors were the side that needed three points here at the Camp Nou to cut down Barcelona's lead to just two points.
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It was not all positive for the Catalan leaders, however, with midfielder Andres Iniesta substituted in the first half due to a hamstring injury in his right leg.
Diego Costa has faced Barcelona 12 times in all competitions and has never scored against them, while this afternoon the Spanish global could not manage to get a shot on target.
With Barcelona dominant for large spells of the match, Costa often found himself isolated up top with little support, as the Valverde's men bossed possession with 58.2 % in the match.
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Atletico had been closing the gap on Barcelona in the La Liga standings entering the match.
"It was a very important game because being eight points ahead is not the same as two", Valverde added. Atletico Madrid's passive approach saw them keep within touching distance of Barca, but they struggled to create chances.
Only after Messi opened the scoring did the away side look to take the game to Barca, at which stage it was too late.
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