BARCELONA: A subdued Barcelona could not break down Getafe in a 0-0 draw on Sunday, dropping more points but still sitting 11 clear of Real Madrid at the top of La Liga.
Third-place Atletico Madrid beat Almeria 2-1 at home with Antoine Griezmann netting a brace as he continued his sparkling form.
Valencia sunk deeper into the relegation mire with a 2-0 home defeat by Sevilla, who host Manchester United in the Europa League on Thursday.
Champions Madrid beat Cadiz on Saturday to cut back Barcelona’s lead, and with nine games remaining it seems highly unlikely they will catch Barcelona — but Xavi Hernandez’s side are limping over the line.
Barcelona drew 0-0 at home against Girona on Monday and followed that up with a second consecutive stalemate, the team still wallowing after their Copa del Rey semifinal thrashing by Madrid earlier in April.
The one positive for Barca was a 22nd clean sheet of the season in the top flight, with Getafe, 15th, not creating much danger.
“Here you suffer, because the grass is high, the usual tricks, so it’s hard, the clear chances you have — you have to put them away,” Barca goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen told DAZN.
“It’s a dry pitch, so it’s difficult. We did things differently to normal.”
Xavi echoed Ter Stegen’s complaint that the low quality of the pitch played a part in the result, but said Barca could not hide behind it.
“It’s not an excuse, we weren’t accurate, we made chances but we could not finish them,” said Xavi.
“But yes, the grass did hurt us, the ball didn’t run.”
After a slow start, the Catalans created the first clear chance at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez, when Raphinha fired against the post, with Balde’s follow-up also striking the woodwork.
Sergi Roberto pulled up injured, seemingly with a hamstring issue, adding to Barcelona’s long list of absentees.
The league leaders have badly missed explosive winger Ousmane Dembele and creative midfielder Pedri in recent weeks.
Getafe were content with the point, sitting back as Barcelona probed for a breakthrough and found goalkeeper David Soria in their way, although Borja Mayoral almost snatched a winner for the hosts on the break.
Xavi’s side are still firm favorites to lift the title for the first time since 2019, but should they stumble at home against Atletico next weekend, doubts could creep in.
Getafe are four points above the drop zone, after Valencia, 18th, lost at Mestalla.
Sevilla, who welcome Manchester United for the Europa League quarter-final second leg clash next week, earned a hard-fought win over the frustrated hosts, for whom Ilaix Moriba was sent off late on.
Defender Loic Bade sent Sevilla ahead at Mestalla early in the second half, with Suso doubling the visitors’ lead.
Valencia’s anger grew when they were not awarded a penalty after the ball struck Fernando’s hand in the area, and then later on had a spot kick award canceled by the referee after VAR showed no foul had been committed.
The victory helped Jose Luis Mendilibar’s Sevilla rise to 12th, eight points clear of the bottom three, continuing their improvement since he replaced Jorge Sampaoli at the helm in March.
Atletico stayed two points behind Real Madrid with a narrow win over Almeria, 17th, which should have been more comfortable than it proved to be.
Antoine Griezmann headed Atletico ahead in the fifth minute when Angel Correa nodded on a corner to the back post.
Diego Simeone’s side were dominant throughout, but Almeria pulled level when Leo Baptistao’s shot deflected in off Jose Gimenez.
Griezmann sent the Rojiblancos ahead again before the break, finishing clinically from Yannick Carrasco’s pass at the end of a fine team move for his 11th league goal.
Carrasco and Griezmann both hit the post in the second half as Atletico looked to kill the game.
They could not find the third and Almeria gave Atletico a few scares in the final stages, appealing for a penalty when Gimenez handled but VAR showed there was an offside.
“I think I’m at my most complete version in terms of assists and goals,” Griezmann told Movistar.
“I’m happy with my performances but I haven’t reached my ceiling yet — I hope I can soon.”
Girona, ninth, beat bottom-of-the-table Elche 2-0, leaving the stragglers 17 points from safety.