GETAFE (Spain): A subdued Barcelona could not break down Getafe in a 0-0 draw on Sunday, leaving them 11 points clear of Real Madrid at the top of La Liga.
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 bore draw, the team still wallowing after their Copa del Rey semi-final 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.
“(A point) isn’t great, we had a good chance in the first half and we couldn’t get on the scoreboard,” Barca goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen told DAZN.
“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.
“It’s a dry pitch, so it’s difficult. We did things differently to normal, it’s a point which isn’t good but it’s a point we’re adding, obviously.”
The goalkeeper encouraged his team not to lose any more ground in the final nine league games.
“I like winning, winning and winning, not dropping a single point more — that has to be our attitude,” added Ter Stegen. “We have to fight to maintain the advantage that we have right now.”
Xavi, benching out of form forwards Ansu Fati and Ferran Torres, opted to use defender Alejandro Balde on the left wing, in front of Jordi Alba.
After a slow start, the Catalans created the first clear chance at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez, when Raphinha raced on to a long ball and fired against the post.
The rebound fell to Balde, but with the goal gaping, mishit an effort which struck the same upright.
Sergi Roberto pulled up injured, seemingly with a hamstring injury, 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.
David Soria saved well to keep out a Robert Lewandowski header just before the break.
The Getafe goalkeeper was again called into action early in the second half, making a fine stop from Franck Kessie, although the flag was raised for offside.
Lewandowski nodded narrowly wide from an Alba cross before Soria made another solid stop from a rasping Raphinha effort.
Getafe were content with the draw, sitting back as Barcelona probed for a breakthrough, although Borja Mayoral almost snatched a winner for the hosts on the break.
Ronald Araujo failed to clear the ball in his box and former Real Madrid striker Mayoral controlled the loose ball but slashed an effort wide.
Barcelona are still firm favourites to lift the title for the first time since 2019, but should they stumble at home against Atletico Madrid next weekend, doubts could creep in.