Neither Barcelona nor Atletico Madrid could strike a decisive blow in the La Liga title fight as a goalless draw was played out at Camp Nou.
Just two points separated the two rivals before kick off, but with so much on the line this was a tight and tense encounter. Atleti will be the happier of the pair as they stay at the top of the table.
The first half saw the two rivals feel their way into the contest with very few scoring chances created. However, both sides were forced into changes with Thomas Lemar suffering an injury and Sergio Busquets unable to recover from a clash of heads.
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Atletico Madrid grew in confidence as the first half progressed with the lively Luis Suarez thwarted more than once by Marc-Andre ter Stegen on his return to the Camp Nou to face his former club.
Ronald Koeman, banned from the touchline for this match, introduced Ronald Araujo at half time, but this did little to change the dynamic of the contest even if Lionel Messi had a handful of good opportunities.
Araujo and Suarez both had goals disallowed as Barcelona started to impose themselves on an Atletico Madrid side happy to sit deeper and deeper, but there was to be no breakthrough as the two teams cancelled each other out.
TALKING POINT - The only winner from this match is Real Madrid
Zinedine Zidane must have liked what he saw from the Camp Nou. With Barcelona and Atletico Madrid taking points off each other, Real Madrid can now move to the top of La Liga with a win over Sevilla, themselves in the Spanish title race, on Sunday evening. There will be more twists and turns in this most compelling of title tussles, but the only winner from this match was Real Madrid whose head-to-head record gives them the edge on Barca. They might now be considered favourites to retain their crown.
MAN OF THE MATCH - Yannick Carrasco (Atletico Madrid)
There weren’t many standout performers in this match, but Yannick Carrasco at least tried to make something happen for Atletico Madrid down the wing. The Belgian is enjoying a good season and Diego Simeone deployed him in a slightly different position higher up the pitch, exposing space in behind the Barcelona wing backs. The hosts struggled to cope with the threat of Carrasco, particularly in the first half.
Barcelona - ter Stegen 6, Mingueza 4, Pique 5, Lenglet 5, Dest 5, de Jong 5, Busquets 4, Pedri 5, Alba 5, Messi 7, Griezmann 4. Subs - Roberto 5, Dembele 4, Ilaix 6, Araujo 6.
Atletico Madrid - Oblak 6, Trippier 4, Savic 5, Felipe 5, Hermoso 6, Carrasco 8, Koke 5, Llorente 4, Lemar 4, Correa 5, Suarez 6. Subs - Saul 5, Kondogbia 4, Felix 3.
14’ Lemar injury! Simeone is going to be forced into an early change here. Lemar appears to have sustained a muscular injury and can’t continue. Saul comes on to replace the Frenchman.
32’ Busquets off! Barcelona are also going to have to make a change in the first half. Busquets suffered a head knock and tried to continue, but he can’t. Ilaix comes on in his place.
41’ MESSI... wide! The Barcelona number 10 takes on the whole Atletico Madrid defence all on his own, but after dribbling to the edge of the box his left-footed shot is tipped just wide by Oblak!
45’ Big chance for Felipe! Atletico Madrid caught Barcelona cold from a corner kick with the low pass played into Felipe, but the defender side-footed over the target! What an opportunity!
66’ Ilaix shot deflected wide! Big chance for Barcelona to break the deadlock with the ball cut back to Ilaix, but the young midfielder has his shot deflected wide for a corner kick. Close!
73’ GOOOOOOO... NO! Araujo gets up and flicks home a header, the ball is in the back of the net, but the Barcelona defender was clearly offside when the cross was played into the box!
86’ Dembele over the bar! That was a good chance for Barcelona to finally make the breakthrough with Messi staging the cross for Dembele, but he could only head over the bar!
Atletico Madrid registered six shots on target in the opening 45 minutes (9 shots in total), the most by an opposition team in any game against Barcelona this season (all competitions).
Atleti have now failed to win any of their last 15 away games against Barcelona in La Liga.
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