While many tuning in might have expected to see more in terms of action and goals than what we were treated to, Atlético Madrid and FC Barcelona played to a 0-0 draw which keeps both teams tied atop the La Liga standings to close out the first half of their league season. It was a game which the end result suited both teams quiet well as the last thing either Gerardo Martino or Diego Simeone would have wanted was a loss that would have seen the other, in theory, six points behind the other because of the head-to-head tiebreaker.
The start of the game played out in in a way which fit and suited Atlético and their game plan, which was to press Barca up high when the ball was in their attacking third, but then Barca had the possession of the ball and decided to sit back and try to hit them on the counter. This tactical game plan almost saw Atlético convert a few early chances, but were unable to do so and from there, and Barca began to find its way into the game and started to control the action for the remainder of the first half despite Martino having opted to not start Lionel Messi and Neymar.
In the second half, the game did not pick up nor improve much in terms of technical quality as it remained a game characterized more by the physical intensity which the game was played at as opposed to the technical skill many expected or were hoping to see. Even the introductions of Messi and Neymar failed to improve Barca’s play even with Messi missing the best chance of the half nine minutes from time as Atlético goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois was up to the task.
While neither team will be all too upset with the 0-0 draw from this game, that should not mean that they should be content with the final scoreline. If Real Madrid are able to win their game tomorrow, then they would find themselves only three points behind Barca and Atlético. That said, those hoping for a race that is not just between Barca and Real Madrid for the league title should be encouraged as once again, Atlético showed that it will be a three-team race.