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Barça have missed out on the chance to go top of the league table in a tense but goalless draw with the league leaders. It’s a result that does no favours to either side and means Real Madrid are now in the controlling position of what is proving to be one of the tightest and most fascinating Liga title races in recent memory.
The red-and-whites came with a mission and enjoyed most of the big chances in the first half, and while Barça started creating a lot more danger as the game progressed, it ultimately ended the way it began.
The first 45 minutes were almost all about Atlético. From a fabulous piece of defending by Lenglet to thwart Correa to a wasted Felipe chance that sailed over the bar… and with a number of providential interventions by Ter Stegen in between, Carrasco and Luis Suárez coming particularly close, Atlético had a feast of chances.
In fact, their six shots on target were the most by a visiting team at Camp Nou since 2003/04.
Barça, meanwhile, were struggling to create anything of consequence, but could well have ended the half ahead when Leo Messi wove his way past five men before Oblak managed to get his fingertips to a thunderbolt of a shot.
But when the sides went in for the break, and having lost Sergio Busquets following a nasty collision with Savic, Barça could feel very relieved that as yet there was still no score.
Tight and tense
Things needed to change. A Messi free kick almost had Oblak beat, Araujo headed into the net but was caught offside. Atlético were by no means subdued, but at least the ball was finally getting to the places Barça wanted it to be…
Fifteen to go and as the scorching afternoon heat started getting to both sides, just one goal would change the entire course of La Liga.
Dembélé had it on 84 minutes but his point-blank header whisked over the wrong side of the bar…
90th minute and Barça had a free kick exactly where Messi like them. Surely… But no.
A point each
Just two minutes of injury time and the tension was at boiling point. Anything could have happened… but nothing of consequence did.
With the game ending all square, it means that Barça have lost the chance to go top of the table and are now depending on Atlético dropping three points in their last three games (as Atlético have the better head-to-head record).
But this result also hands the initiative over to Real Madrid, who are now the only side that will definitely be champion if they win all their remaining games.
But the way this most unpredictable of seasons has been going, anything could happen yet. Some fascinating weekends of football await…
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