Atlético Madrid keeps Liga lead with Barcelona tie
Atlético Madrid held on as leader of the Spanish league by holding Barcelona to 0-0 at the Camp Nou Stadium on Saturday.
Atlético remained two points in front of Barcelona with three rounds to go, still in position to win its first league title since 2014.
Atlético can be surpassed on Sunday if defending champion Real Madrid defeats Sevilla at home. Madrid is three points behind Atlético but would take the lead because it holds the head-to-head tiebreaker against its city rival.
Sevilla was seven points behind Atlético and remained a title contender.
“We showed from the start that we came out to win the match,” Atlético goalkeeper Jan Oblak said. “It was a good result, we added another point with three rounds to go.”
Atlético played well at the Camp Nou but couldn't capitalize on its chances, with Luis Suárez unable to break through with a goal against his former club.
Lionel Messi had some of the few chances for Barcelona, his best near the end of the first half after a great run past defenders. But his shot was brilliantly saved by goalie Oblak. Messi's 90th-minute free kick just missed the post.
This could be Messi’s last chance to win the league with Barcelona before his contract ends at the end of the season. He said last year he wanted to leave the Catalan club.
Barcelona defender Ronald Araújo had a goal disallowed for offside in the 70th.
“We expected a better result but we are
still alive,” Barcelona defender Gerard Piqué said. “We played a good match, we
competed, we had more clear chances than they had, but in the end it wasn’t
possible to get the win. We don’t depend on our own results anymore but
anything can happen.”
A home victory would have lifted Barcelona to the lead for the first time this season. The club had a slow start while struggling financially and enduring political turmoil.
Atlético remained winless at the Camp Nou since Diego Simeone took over as coach in late 2011. The team is winless in 15 consecutive away matches against Barcelona, since 2006. However, a 1-1 draw at the stadium in 2014 was enough to clinch Atlético its last league title.
Barcelona began at full strength but coach Ronald Koeman was absent to serve the second of a two-game suspension for using inappropriate language while arguing with a referee.
Atlético midfielder Thomas Lemar was injured less than 15 minutes in, while Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets left after 30 minutes because of a head injury.