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Sports

Barcelona Fails To Reduce Gap After Draw Against Athletico Madrid

Barcelona team
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Barcelona failed to narrow the gap on league leaders Real Madrid as they were held by title rivals Atletico Madrid.

After failing to unpick Atletico’s defence with intricate passing, the hosts took the lead as Ivan Rakitic glanced in Andres Iniesta’s cross.

Lionel Messi was forced off with an injury on the hour and Atletico took quick advantage as Angel Correa danced through the defence to equalise.

Gerard Pique and Diego Godin went close but neither La Liga side could score.

A point means Luis Enrique’s side could only match Real’s earlier draw with Villarreal as they remain third in the league behind their fiercest rivals and Sevilla.

Messi misery

The hosts were undoubtedly rocked by the loss of Messi on 59 minutes, with Barcelona subsequently tweeting the star striker will be out for three weeks.

A seemingly innocuous challenge from Godin saw the Argentine forced to hobble off with a recurrence of the groin injury that forced him to fly back early from international duty this month for treatment.

The hosts then switched off shortly after, allowing Correa to burst through largely untroubled and equalise for Atletico.

Without the spark provided by Messi and the organisation of Busquets, who also was withdrawn through injury shortly after the break, Barcelona lost their way.

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Lionel Messi leaves the field with an injury

Simeone’s super subs

Diego Simeone’s tactical acumen is no secret but the Atletico boss proved his shrewdness once again as his double substitution resulted in instant success.

Kevin Gameiro and the ineffectual Saul were taken off for Fernando Torres and Correa, with the former providing a deft flick for Correa to run on to, taking advantage of Javier Mascherano’s slip to pick his spot and slot the ball inside Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s near post.

Simeone took full advantage of the misfortune suffered by Barcelona’s own Argentine master as he urged his side forward against an increasingly ragged opposition.

And had Ter Stegen not produced a fine fingertip save in the final moments to deny Godin’s powerful header, then Simeone would have been celebrating another underdog victory.

Defensive duo

In a match full of attacking talents, both sides also showed their defensive strength, as exemplified by Godin and Pique.

Both centre-backs organised their defences brilliantly and each had a chance to win the tie for their sides as they stole a march on their respective markers to go close late on.


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