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Atletico Madrid hold Barca to a goalless draw

By EMN Updated: Jan 12, 2014 10:20 pm

Madrid, January 12

Barcelona and Atletico Madrid remain virtually inseparable in La Liga after Saturday night’s top-of-the-table clash at the Vicente Calderon Stadium ended in a 0-0 draw.As the season reaches its halfway point, both the Catalans and the Red and Whites have 50 points, with only Barcelona’s superior goal difference separating the two teams.
The first half was a tight affair with both teams careful not to give away an early advantage in what could be a decisive game in the fight for the title.
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Despite scoring twice in his comeback match against Getafe in midweek, Lionel Messi once again started on the bench but came on for the injured Andres Iniesta at halftime.
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The Argentine’s introduction gave Barca more bite in attack but still Atletico held firm.
Neymar’s arrival in the 66th minute – the Brazilian striker also started on the bench after missing the match against Getafe with a bout of gastroenteritis – added another string to Barcelona’s attacking bow but a goal didn’t materialize.
Messi, who will be hoping to retain FIFA’s Ballon D’Or when the winner is announced on Monday, passed and probed but couldn’t find a way through. His best chance came nine minutes from the end but the 26-year-old was denied by a fine save from Atletico’s Belgian keeper Thibaut Courtois.
Diego Simeone’s side had their moments too with Diego Costa narrowly missing out at the far post when Brazilian defender Miranda flicked on Koke’s corner kick in the 28th minute.
Turkish midfielder Arda Turan, who provided much of the Atletico’s creative spark, also saw a chance go begging with 12 minutes to go – his mistimed volley easily scooped up by Barcelona’s keeper Victor Valdes.
Both teams are now six points ahead of third place Real Madrid, but Carlo Ancelotti’s side will reduce their arrears to three if they beat Espanyol.

By EMN Updated: Jan 12, 2014 10:20:02 pm