La Liga: Sevilla 0 – 0 Atlético
Atleti earn point in Andalusia but lose ground in title race
Atlético Madrid hold on to third place in La Liga by the skin of their teeth after a goalless draw with Sevilla on Sunday evening.
With Valencia beating Real Sociedad earlier in the day, Atleti knew that they needed something against Sevilla to avoid dropping to fourth in the table. A hard fought 0-0 draw means Atleti go into next week’s match against Valencia still in the top three.
After a disappointing midweek trip to Germany, Atlético have now gone three away games without a victory, and having dropped five out of the last nine available points in the league, are now drifting further away from Real Madrid at the top of the table.
It was always going to be a tough trip for Atleti. Sevilla hadn’t lost at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan in their last 20 matches, and the home side started as the team most likely to score.
Diego Simeone decided to go with Antoine Griezmann on his own up-front, supported by Arda Turan and Raúl García. Mandzukic, Torres and Koke all started from the bench.
Valencia had the first chances on goal. Three times in as many minutes they tested Moyá, albeit one inadvertently through a Tiago deflection. A ball passed across the box bounced off of the Portugese midfielder’s shin and almost caught out the goalkeeper, but he managed to palm it away. Moyá was equal to the other efforts from Bacca, however it is worrying how much space the striker was afforded on the edge of the Atlético area.
Atleti had an opportunity to take the lead now long after, when Raúl García was hacked down on the edge of the area by Arribas. Griezmann stepped up to take the free kick, but it was blazed high over the bar. Not the clinical set-pieces we’ve become accustomed to.
The referee, Carlos Clos, was a strong one. It certainly helped Atleti’s cause as there were countless penalty shouts in the first half. They mostly seemed to come from the Sevilla front pairing of Vitolo and Bacca, the latter throwing himself to the ground on more than one occasion.
Perhaps the strongest claim for a penalty came after a mistake by the Atleti captain, Gabi. After intercepting a pass, the midfielder looked to play it gently to Juanfran but overhit the short pass. Juanfran had to struggle to save an unnecessary corner, but was tackled by Bacca.
He crossed it to Vitolo, who had his legs kicked by Gabi in a reckless attempt to win the ball back, however replays showed that Vitolo went down very easily.
Shortly after, Sevilla had the best opportunity of the night to take the lead. It was the ex-Atlético player Ever Banega at the root of a lot of Sevilla’s attacks, and a superb cross in to the Atleti area caught out Miranda, and found the head of Iborra. The midfielder nodded the ball past Moyá but saw his hopes dashed by the foot of Moyá’s left hand post. Time to breathe again.
While the referee wasn’t one to be conned, he did turn out to be very willing to dish out the yellow cards. There were 11 of them on the night, seven to the visitors. The most costly were those to Antoine Griezmann and Miranda, who picked up their fifth caution of the season and will now miss the vital visit of Valencia to the Calderón next weekend.
There are things to be worried about for Atleti. The fact they don’t look as dangerous from set-pieces will be a worrying one, as the team only managed one shot on target in the entire first half.
The visitors only seemed to take it to the hosts when Fernando Torres made his way onto the pitch, replacing Arda Turan on the hour mark. Not a few minutes after coming on and Torres was getting in behind the Sevilla defenders, causing trouble with his attacks.
Atleti’s best chance of the evening came from the combonation of Torres and Griezmann. El Niño broke clear and was sprinting towards goal, only to square the ball across field to a waiting Griezmann. However the ball could have been further forward, and the Frenchman struggled to connect with the shot properly.
Fernando Torres had another opportunity to score a few minutes later. The Spaniard was sprinting towards goal, before catching out the chasing Sevilla defenders. Unfortunately Torres could only drag the shot wide.
Koke and Mandzukic were brought into the fray later in the second half, but neither could get any hold on the game. Atleti fans will be glad to see Koke return after three matches out through injury.
Los Rojiblancos’ defending was poor on the night. Time and time again they failed to recognise Sevilla’s short corners, and were lucky they didn’t amount to anything.
One particular set piece saw Vitolo unmarked on the edge of Atleti’s 18-yard box. However a casual finish from the Spaniard fizzed over Moyá’s crossbar.
The full-time whistle blew and on the balance of the game it was a good point for Atleti. They remain in third place, a point above Valencia and five points behind Barcelona in second.
Real Madrid play Villarreal at the Bernabeu tonight – a win could take them nine points clear of Atlético.
Next up for Atleti is the visit of Valencia next week.
Do you see today’s result it as a point gained or two points lost? Should we be more concerned about finishing third now, than we should about first?
|Sevilla||0 0||Atlético Madrid|
|01 March 2015|
|F Torres (59')|