La Liga: Atlético 0 – 0 Villarreal

Atleti lose ground on Barca in title race after poor attacking display

Atleti couldn't make the most of their few chances against Villarreal

Atleti couldn't make the most of their few chances against Villarreal

Atlético Madrid fell further behind leaders Barcelona in the La Liga standings on Sunday evening as they could only manage a 0-0 draw against Villarreal.

With Real Madrid drawing with Málaga earlier in the day, Atleti knew that a win would see them move further ahead in second. However a solid defensive performance from both teams meant that a single point each was the outcome.

The best chance of the first half for Atlético came eventually in the 42nd minute, after some great vision from Juanfran on the right wing.

Finding himself in plenty of space, the right-back whipped in a cross to the near post where Griezzmann had stepped away from his marker. The Frenchman’s header was just inches wide of Areola’s right-hand post.

Ángel Correa came close in the opening ten minutes of the second half, with a daring chip that Areola only just managed to tip over his own crossbar.

In trying to inject some life into the game, Diego Simeone brought off Atleti’s top-scorer Antoine Griezmann, and replaced him with Óliver Torres.

A strange decision made somewhat clearer by the fact that Griezmann was only a single yellow card away from missing the Madrid derby next weekend.

There was a big chance for Villarreal after the substitutions were made. Bakambu had an opportunity on the break, but the striker scuffed his shot and failed to test the watching Jan Oblak.

Luciano Vietto, the player who shone so brightly with Villarreal last season, eventually came on to replace Ángel Correa as Atleti searched for a goal. It was another worrying performance for Atlético with very little opportunities fashioned.

Denis Súarez was denied by Juanfran as he attempted to get a shot away for Villarreal. Both defences were having excellent games, and on watching the match it’s no surprise that it featured the two best defensive records in the league.

Time was running out for Atleti to take advantage of Real Madrid’s 1-1 draw with Málaga earlier in the day. As the game entered the last ten minutes, it was clear that a single goal was going to settle things.

Matias Kranevitter was brought on in place of the tireless Saúl, whilst the reverse fixture’s matchwinner Léo Baptistão came on for Villarreal, who is of course on-loan from Atlético.

Fernando Torres almost converted a half-chance on the turn, but again the goalkeeper Areola was untroubled by the shot.

Vietto got on the end of a fantastic Óliver Torres takedown but couldn’t get a shot away until he was almost at the goal-line and rifled the ball into the side netting.

Villarreal had a corner with the last kick of the game, but it was poorly executed and the referee blew for full-time.

A disappointing result for Atleti, but they must pick themselves up before a huge week for the club. Wednesday is the long-awaited trip to Eindhoven for the Champions League clash with PSV, whilst next weekend heralds the return of the Madrid derby.

Atleti keep second place, but are now eight points behind leaders Barcelona.

Atlético Madrid Villarreal
Atlético Madrid 0 0 Villarreal
Competition Liga BBVA
Location Vicente Calderón
Date 21 February 2016
Kick Off 20:30 CET