The hype was quite huge before this match but in the end, Atletico Madrid and Barcelona ended up sharing points that in turn would do Real Madrid a big favour if they beat Sevilla on Sunday.
FULL-TIME: Barcelona 0-0 Atletico Madrid
— Goal (@goal) May 8, 2021
Luis Suarez faced his old pal Lionel Messi and that was the only notable thing on the pitch as both the teams lacked the edge and intent for dishing out a high voltage contest.
Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman made just one switch from the team that defeated Valencia in their last outing, with Oscar Mingueza coming in for Ronald Araujo at center-back, while Atletico boss Diego Simeone brought back Koke and swapped in Felipe for Jose Maria Gimenez in defence.
Leo & Luis 💙❤ Friends Forever pic.twitter.com/ihR7CmxJvj
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) May 8, 2021
With Thomas Lemar having to limp off with an injury, so Saul Niguez was summoned off the bench to replace the Frenchman.
Atleti would create the first chance with a Mario Hermoso cross meeting the cutting run of Angel Correa, but Clement Lenglet was alert and deflected the Argentine’s effort wide.
Barcelona, then, suffered a setback: After a clash of heads with Stefan Savic, Sergio Busquets was unable to continue despite his best efforts and was replaced by Ilaix Moriba.
Atleti were dominating and threatened – Andre ter Stegen had to get low to save a shot from Marcos Llorente before doing so again a minute later to prevent former teammate Luis Suarez. The Barca shot-stopper then had to do well to block a Yannick Carrasco shot and then batted away the rebound, right as Suarez was looking to pounce.
Messi vs the La Liga big 2 this season (Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid)
— ○ HAZARD OUT (@crisrxno) May 8, 2021
The only Barcelona chance in the first half came unsurprisingly from Messi, who rampaged his way through the Atleti defence before unleashing a left-footed shot that was going to ripple the net if not for the fingertip save of Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak.
Mingueza was experiencing a tough time trying to slow down Carrasco, so Koeman made a change at the break, bringing on Araujo for the Catalan defender to try to get some more protection in the back, especially with Busquets out.
Jordi Alba posed a threat on that left side channel, but Kieran Tripper was keeping the left-back in check until just after the hour mark when Alba got loose and crossed for Ilaix, whose shot was deflected at the last moment by Hermoso.
Barcelona were getting more into the Atleti half and Oblak had to be ready to paw away a Messi free-kick from the outside corner of the area.
Messi is yet to register a SINGLE goal or assist vs Real Madrid or Atletico Madrid in Laliga this Season, he's played 4 games. (360 minutes)
''Balond'Or season'' he hasn't turned up in any of the big games this season, lowest standards in history 😭😭😭 pic.twitter.com/Dk6fI4cNvS
— 💫 (@Madridi7ii) May 8, 2021
Simeone’s next substitution was for his first sub, with Joao Felix on for Saul, followed by Geoffrey Kondogbia for Correa, while Sergi Roberto and Ousmane Dembele replaced Sergino Dest and Pedri respectively.
Things stood on a knife’s edge entering the final 10 minutes and Dembele looked set to break the deadlock with a late goal, but he headed over the crossbar.
Messi also had one final look via a free-kick, but he just missed the top left corner of the net, leaving both teams pondering whether they had botched the opportunities to lift the title.
6 matches against direct title rivals:
5 out of 18 points
The story of our season. Change even one of these results and we're leading La Liga. pic.twitter.com/TDxBtp3MNb
— total Barça (@totalBarca) May 9, 2021
The draw leaves everything in the hands of Zinedine Zidane’sside, with Los Blancos now only depending on their own results with four games to play. If they win them all, they will retain the title.
With Sevilla, Granada, Athletic Club, and Villarreal to come, they have the most complicated run-in of the three contenders, but they wouldn’t have expected to find themselves in this position after their draw against Real Betis two weeks ago.
Should Real Madrid draw, or even lose to Sevilla, things will stay as they were before Matchday 35 got underway: One more loss for Atletico and only wins for Real Madrid after this weekend would give Los Blancos the edge, as they boast a top head-to-head record over their cross-city rivals.