Leaders Barcelona played out a second straight 0-0 draw in LaLiga after mid-table Getafe battled for a home point in a hard-fought game on Sunday.
Barca, who were held by visitors Girona last weekend, still have a healthy lead over second-placed Real Madrid but Sunday’s stalemate left the gap at 11 points with nine games remaining.
Barcelona coach Xavi acknowledged his side did not play well but also blamed the conditions, saying they felt uncomfortable after the game was played in bright sunshine on a dry pitch.
“We are used to playing without the sun and I don’t want it to sound like an excuse but we are used to playing at night, it’s obvious,” Xavi told reporters.
“The state of the pitch has been detrimental. Yesterday we trained on a dry pitch… Everyone saw it today.
“It’s very difficult to play like that, it’s bad for the spectacle. The ball didn’t run, it’s bad even for Getafe. It’s essential that it’s in good condition.”
Barca had two opportunities to take the lead in the 25th minute when Raphinha was put through on goal but the Brazilian winger saw his shot come off the post before Alejandro Balde’s effort from the rebound also hit the woodwork.
But in the absence of injured players such as Pedri and Ousmane Dembele, two of their main creators this season, Barcelona were blunt in attack despite dominating possession, while their passing was not as slick.
In the second half, Barca striker Robert Lewandowski, LaLiga’s top scorer this season with 17 goals, had a header blocked while Getafe goalkeeper David Soria also denied Raphinha with a fine save.
Getafe nearly stole all three points on a counter-attack in the 87th minute when the ball fell to Borja Mayoral but the striker’s shot from distance flew just wide of the post.
Barca host Atletico Madrid next Sunday, while 15th-placed Getafe, who sit four points above the relegation zone, are at Mallorca.
Griezmann double guides Atletico to sixth straight league win
Atletico Madrid extended their unbeaten run to 13 league games after Antoine Griezmann scored twice in a 2-1 home win over Almeria on Sunday as they registered their sixth straight win in Laliga.
Atletico moved to within two points of second-placed rivals Real Madrid but Diego Simeone’s side are 13 points behind league leaders Barcelona. Almeria are 17th, three points above the relegation zone.
Atletico were up and running inside five minutes when Angel Correa cleverly flicked his header from a corner kick into the six-yard box where Griezmann nodded home from point-blank range.
But Almeria got back on level terms in the 37th minute when they pounced on a poor back pass from Correa which set Leo Baptistao on his way down the left against his former club.
The Brazilian quickly took his shot as he was closed down and it deflected off defender Jose Gimenez before looping over Jan Oblak in goal to go down as an own goal.
The visitors’ joy was shortlived, however, as Atletico restored their lead six minutes later with some neat interplay which allowed Yannick Carrasco to cut the ball in to Griezmann who grabbed his second with a smart finish.
Almeria thought they had an opportunity to steal a point in the last minute from the penalty spot when Gimenez handled the ball in the box, but VAR came to Atletico’s rescue, informing the referee that there was an offside in the buildup.
Atletico next travel to Barcelona, the last team to beat them back in January.
Juventus suffer defeat at Sassuolo
Juventus fell to a 1-0 loss at Sassuolo after a second-half goal by substitute Gregoire Defrel earned the points in Serie A on Sunday, condemning Massimiliano Allegri’s side to successive league defeats for the first time this season.
Juve, seventh in the standings on 44 points, missed the chance to close the gap to the top six and remain four points behind Atalanta, who visit ninth-placed Fiorentina on Monday.
For Juventus, who took a small step towards the last four of the Europa League with a 1-0 home victory over Sporting in the first leg of their quarter-final on Thursday, this was their first consecutive defeat in Serie A since October 2021.
Juve lost 2-1 at Lazio in their last league outing.
“We had to do better against an excellent Sassuolo. I think the defeat was well deserved,” Allegri told a news conference.
“We didn’t move very much, we didn’t attack deep… Now we need to roll up our sleeves, prepare for Thursday’s game against Sporting … and improve.”
Juventus, for whom winning the Europa League remains their most likely route into next season’s Champions League, on Thursday face Sporting in Lisbon in their Europa league return leg before hosting runaway Serie A leaders Napoli next Sunday.
After a cautious start on Sunday, the match sprung to life when Sassuolo midfielder Maxime Lopez tested Juventus goalkeeper Mattia Perin with a header in the 55th minute.
A minute later Perin pulled off another brilliant save to keep out Defrel’s towering header following a corner.
However, the halftime substitute eventually broke the deadlock in the 64th minute, firing inside the right post on the rebound following a corner.
Juve came close to finding an equaliser nine minutes later through Adrien Rabiot who leapt inside the box to connect with Angel Di Maria’s corner but keeper Andrea Consigli superbly turned the ball over the bar.
Di Maria, who replaced Arkadiusz Milik just before the hour, had a chance 15 minutes from time when he met a sublime cross from Federico Chiesa but narrowly missed the target.
Allegri brought on Paul Pogba in the final 10 minutes for the Frenchman’s third league appearance of an injury-plagued season but the Turin side did not come any closer to scoring.
Sassuolo, who moved up three places to 10th on 40 points from 30 games, travel to Salernitana on Saturday.
“Today (our) defensive effectiveness caught the eye, we were aggressive and courageous, we wanted to play this game,” Sassuolo coach Alessio Dionisi said.
Sixteenth-placed Lecce, five points above the relegation zone, drew 1-1 at home to Sampdoria who are rooted to the bottom of the table 10 points adrift of the safety line, while Torino, in 11th, had the same scoreline against 15th-placed Salernitana.
Roma cruise to easy victory over Udinese
Third-placed AS Roma secured a comfortable 3-0 home win against Udinese thanks to goals from Edoardo Bove, Lorenzo Pellegrini and Tammy Abraham in Serie A on Sunday.
Roma now have 56 points from 30 games, five adrift of second-placed Lazio and three above AC Milan in fourth.
They took the lead in the 37th minute through Bove who tucked the ball away after Bryan Cristante’s penalty for handball by Roberto Pereyra came back off the post.
Captain Pellegrini doubled Roma’s lead with a precise strike into the top left corner after being nicely teed up inside the box by striker Andrea Belotti 10 minutes into the second half.
Udinese could have pulled one back through a penalty awarded for Gianluca Mancini’s handball but goalkeeper Rui Patricio dived full-length to save Pereyra’s spot kick in the 69th.
Roma substitute Abraham wrapped up the win in stoppage time with a header.
Udinese, missing their season’s top scorer Beto with flu, battled Roma for possession but lacked sharpness in attack and failed to create any real danger in front of Patricio’s goal.
Jose Mourinho’s Roma side will look to recover from a goal down in their Europa League quarter-final when they host Feyenoord in the second leg on Thursday before travelling to Atalanta in Serie A on April 24.
Udinese are 12th on 39 points and host second-bottom Cremonese next Sunday.
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