Atletico draws with Barcelona, holds onto La Liga lead

barcelona-atletico

Atletico Madrid's Luis Suarez, centre, is challenged by Barcelona's goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, second right, and Barcelona's Gerard Pique during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between FC Barcelona and Atletico Madrid at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, May 8, 2021. (Joan Monfort/AP)

MADRID — Atletico Madrid held on as leader of the Spanish league by holding Barcelona to 0-0 at the Camp Nou Stadium on Saturday.

Atletico remained two points in front of Barcelona with three rounds to go, still in position to win its first league title since 2014.

Atletico can be surpassed on Sunday if defending champion Real Madrid defeats Sevilla at home. Madrid is three points behind Atletico but would take the lead because it holds the head-to-head tiebreaker against its city rival.

Sevilla was seven points behind Atletico and remained a title contender.

"We showed from the start that we came out to win the match," Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak said. "It was a good result, we added another point with three rounds to go."

Atletico played well at the Camp Nou but couldn’t capitalize on its chances, with Luis Suarez unable to break through with a goal against his former club.

Lionel Messi had some of the few chances for Barcelona, his best near the end of the first half after a great run past defenders. But his shot was brilliantly saved by goalie Oblak. Messi’s 90th-minute free kick just missed the post.

This could be Messi’s last chance to win the league with Barcelona before his contract ends at the end of the season. He said last year he wanted to leave the Catalan club.

Barcelona defender Ronald Araujo had a goal disallowed for offside in the 70th.

"We expected a better result but we are still alive," Barcelona defender Gerard Pique said. "We played a good match, we competed, we had more clear chances than they had, but in the end it wasn’t possible to get the win. We don’t depend on our own results anymore but anything can happen."

A home victory would have lifted Barcelona to the lead for the first time this season. The club had a slow start while struggling financially and enduring political turmoil.

Atletico remained winless at the Camp Nou since Diego Simeone took over as coach in late 2011. The team is winless in 15 consecutive away matches against Barcelona, since 2006. However, a 1-1 draw at the stadium in 2014 was enough to clinch Atletico its last league title.

Barcelona began at full strength but coach Ronald Koeman was absent to serve the second of a two-game suspension for using inappropriate language while arguing with a referee.

Atletico midfielder Thomas Lemar was injured less than 15 minutes in, while Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets left after 30 minutes because of a head injury.

OTHER RESULTS

Joselu scored in the 87th to help host Alaves draw with Levante 2-2. Alaves was in 16th place, two points above the relegation zone.

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