Atletico Madrid did little to improve their underwhelming position in the league table as they were held to an entertaining 0-0 draw by Villarreal at Estadio de la Ceramica, making it three games without a win for Los Colchoneros.
Diego Simeone was looking for a response to the 1-0 defeat to Barcelona that left them trailing LaLiga’s top three by five points, but a wasteful showing meant they were unsuccessful.
A rip-roaring opening 45 minutes produced chances aplenty at either end, but the post and poor finishing stopped Atletico from taking advantage, while Jan Oblak was in inspired form in the visitors’ net.
After the break there was initially a similar pattern to the contest, before Atletico upped the ante towards the end, but a woeful miss from Renan Lodi summed up their performance.
A thrilling first half began with three opportunities inside the first 15 minutes.
Oblak acrobatically stopped Samuel Chukwueze’s long-range effort and then parried away Gerard Moreno’s header, before Joao Felix’s 30-yard strike hit the right-hand post.
Joao Felix wasted an even better opportunity 10 minutes later, firing over when played through on goal by Koke.
But Atletico again had to rely on Oblak when he tipped Manu Trigueros’ brilliant dipping volley on to the roof of the net just after the half hour.
Proceedings resumed at a similarly blistering pace and Villarreal should have taken the lead – Chukwueze inexplicably missing the target after being fed into the box by Trigueros.
Lodi somehow eclipsed Chukwueze’s haplessness, however, shooting over from close range following Joao Felix’s cross and that proved to be Atletico’s final clear-cut chance.
23 – Villarreal (16) & Atlético de Madrid (7) have made 23 total shots combined in the first half, more than any other #LaLiga game without scoring at the half time since at least 2003/2004 season. Gunfire#VillarrealCF #AtleticoMadrid pic.twitter.com/aQRjSsQLNd
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) December 6, 2019
What does it mean? Leading pack almost out of sight for Atletico
After Atletico’s 1-0 defeat to Barcelona, Diego Simeone claimed he was not paying the Blaugrana nor Real Madrid any mind. Rather, he highlighted the increasing gap between themselves and Sevilla.
Atleti could end the weekend eight points adrift of Julen Lopetegui’s men, while Real Sociedad and Athletic Bilbao will fancy their chances of moving four points clear of the capital club.
Creative spark Trigueros carves Atleti open
Villarreal playmaker Trigueros enjoyed a wonderful display. Playing in a forward-thinking role, the midfielder was the hosts’ creator-in-chief and was excellent, laying on a match-high five chances.
Morata fades into the background
Although Villarreal boast one of LaLiga’s best attacks, they are by no means watertight at the back. Alvaro Morata would have fancied his chances of causing trouble, but he was largely ineffective and was fortunate to escape a second yellow card for a nasty foul on Raul Albiol.
Atletico return to Champions League action at home to Lokomotiv Moscow on Wednesday, before hosting Osasuna in LaLiga. Villarreal face another tricky test next weekend as they travel to Sevilla.
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