Zee Media Bureau/Jayanta Oinam
New Delhi: The clash at Vincente Calderon between La Liga`s top two teams failed to live up to its billing. For the host - Atletico Madrid, it was a perfect chance to prove their rise as the third force in Spain. And for the visiting Barcelona, the opportunity was to test their bench strength against a serious challenger. However, the contest ended without any creditable chance, from either side.
With 50 points each from the same numbers of games, the capital side played host to the defending champions from Catalonia. Diego Simeone`s choice of starting both Diego Costa, league`s second best striker with 19 goals, and ex-Barca striker, David Villa up front indeed showed some intent. But the Argentine packed the midfield with everything he could afford in the match.
While Simeone`s strategy was, seemingly, to counter attacking trio of Pedro, Cesc Fabregas and Alexis Sanchez, Barcelona were more content in controlling the ball in the centre. The caution that both the sides displayed in the cauldron was truly reflected in the final score-line, a damp goalless draw.
As usual, Barca enjoyed a greater amount of possession, but Atletico were successful in keeping the ball away from the danger zone. In between, the hosts bouyed by a pack home crowd, tried to take advantage from counter attacks, but the back four Barcelona proved too good to test fit-again, Victor Valdes.
Gerardo Martino did tried to effect a result from the tie by bringing both Lionel Messi and Neymar in the second half, but his Argentine counterpart - Simeone proved equally astute by deploying a defensive midfield play, thwart all that Barcelona could conjoured up. The visitors` only goal scoring opportunity, from Messi was saved by Thibault Courtois.
After the match, Barcelona lead the table on goal difference from Atletico Madrid.