It took a while, but Barcelona and Real Madrid finally got a chance to clash against each other, meaning all 20 LaLiga teams now have 17 fixtures under their belt as they get ready for round 18, set to kick off on this Friday, December 20, with a brawl between Eibar and Granada CF. Despite having one game in hand, however, neither Barcelona nor Real Madrid managed to take advantage of the “extra match” to secure a substantial lead ahead of the rest of the pack, meaning the LaLiga title race got even more exciting.
El Classico ends in a stalemate
While officially a re-play of round 10 fixture, which was postponed due to ongoing protests in Barcelona, Real Madrid and Barcelona met later on Wednesday, when they clashed at Camp Nou in what was regarded as an important fixture to win in their race to the title of 2019/20 LaLiga champions. That being said, the match did not see any team show enough to claim a win as they parted ways with one point apiece.
Besides eight yellow cards that were handed out throughout the 90 minutes, neither side really impressed, but it’s worth noting it was Real Madrid who looked much stronger throughout the match. The first half saw Barcelona produce a rather lacklustre performance. While they held onto the ball for 51% of the time, the Blaugrana put up only three-goal attempts and one shot on goal. Real Madrid on the other side put up 12 goal attempts and four shots on goal with 49% ball possession, but without much success, as they failed to score a goal.
The second half was much closer, but that is not to say either really impressed. Barcelona mustered up six-goal attempts and one shot on goal while Real Madrid put up five goal attempts and no shots on goal. Suffice to say it was one of the slowest El Classicos in a while which in total saw only six shots on goal, four of which were produced by the visitors. The match ended with the final score of 0:0, which was the first time in 17 years that we got to see a goalless LaLiga El Classico. Last time Barcelona and Real Madrid parted ways without a single goal was in November 2002.
Sevilla fall flat against Villarreal
Sevilla got off to a flying start in the 2019/20 season, seeing how they kept themselves among the top six teams in the league ever since round seven and they never looked back since. As LaLiga rounds progressed, Sevilla’s consistency earned them a top-four and later a top-three spot, where they reside ahead of round 18. Despite their praiseworthy run so far this term, however, Sevilla can’t be too happy with what they have shown in the last two rounds. In round 16, they disappointed everyone with a draw against Osasuna (1:1), but that result was not nearly as bad as that which Sevilla produced last round when they lost to Villarreal (1:2) in front of their home crowd.
In regards to that match, Villarreal grabbed an early lead in the 13th minute with a goal by Albiol, which was also the only goal of the first half, despite Sevilla’s eight-goal attempts and four shots on goal. The hosts kept up the pressure in the second half, where they produced 16 goal attempts, and managed to score an equalizer in 61st minute. Unfortunately, it was Villarreal who took their chances better and scored their second goal of the night in 74th minute, which ultimately proved to be too much for Sevilla to catch up to. It was quite an unfortunate loss for Sevilla who failed to deliver on that night and with that lost a very good chance to get themselves within two points of the league leaders.
Atletico Madrid continue their climb
After a streak of poor results, which saw Simeone’s men draw against Granada (1:1), lose against Barcelona (0:1) and draw against Villarreal (0:0), Atletico Madrid managed to muster up the strength to defeat Osasuna (2:0) last round, which returned them back to the top part of the league, where they sit at fifth place, still seven points short of reaching up to Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Following rather underwhelming results in the last three rounds, it was time for Atletico Madrid to prove their worth in front of their own fans and they did just that. Simeone’s men entered their bout with Osasuna with all guns blazing as they took over the control of the match early into the first half. With 54% ball possession throughout the opening 45 minutes, Atleti shot the ball 6/11, yet were a bit unlucky with their attempts as they failed to score a goal. Nonetheless, the hosts kept up the pressure into the second half and scored their first goal of the match in the 67th minute. Osasuna put up some resistance, but to no avail, as they conceded their second only eight minutes later when Saul scored his second league goal of the season which more or less sealed the deal and won Atletico their seventh fixture of the year.
Looking at the match throughout, it was a solid effort from Atletico who managed to bounce back after their less-than-impressive draw against Villarreal. That being said, it remains to be seen whether they will manage to keep up the tempo into round 18, considering how inconsistent Atletico looked like this season. Interestingly enough, since their opening three fixtures of the season, Atletico Madrid never won two league fixtures in a row and while we can’t know for sure how they will perform going forward, we can be sure Simeone will fancy his chances against Betis, who they will meet with this Sunday, December 22 in round 18 of LaLiga.
With Barcelona and Real Madrid splitting one point apiece in their clash this week, there were no changes at the top of the league, where the two titans remain tied with 36 points each. Despite their defeat in the last round, Sevilla (9-4-4) retained their third place where they sit with 31 points, which is one above Getafe (8-6-3) who are entering round 18 with three successive wins behind them. Atletico Madrid (7-8-2) climbed their way to fifth place and will look to continue their climb comes round 18. Real Sociedad dropped down to sixth after drawing against Barcelona (2:2) in round 17, which was a solid result for them nonetheless. Just one point short of breaking into the top six, we have Ath Bilbao (7-6-4) and Valencia (7-6-4), which suggests we are in for an exciting season, seeing how there is only a four-point gap between third-placed Sevilla and eighth-placed Valencia.