Diego Costa

The top two teams in Spain, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, finished their first league match of the season in a tense, tactical and aggressive 0-0 draw, which actually benefits the third team in the La Liga title race triangle.

Real Madrid still haven’t played their match, but a win against Espanyol will mean that they’re only three points behind the joint leaders, with Barcelona leading thanks to goal difference.

So who was better? A draw, maybe Barcelona winning in split decision if you have to pick a better team. They were the slightly more dangerous side, despite playing without Lionel Messi and Neymar during the first half, although they were less exposed without their two stars playing.

Atletico Madrid began the match with their 4-4-2 lineup that includes David Villa next to Diego Costa and Raul Garcia sitting on the bench. It helped them press Barcelona close to their own box for the first 10 minutes, but no team can press so much for so long, and Barcelona soon took over the pitch with their no striker formation. The only chance in the first 45 minutes for both teams came from a long range shot by Gerard Pique, but it didn’t really test Thibaut Courtois.

Things changed in the second half. Lionel Messi came in but banged up his knee on the first time he touched the ball, creating a chance in the box. Andres Iniesta came off, and for 15 minutes, Atletico Madrid stopped the Barcelona possession and looked like the more dangerous side. Not creating chances, but hovering around Victor Valdes’ box. Both Valdes and Pique kept their composure, and Barcelona defended well until the storm passes.

The final 15-20 minutes were about Barcelona close to scoring, but the final good chance Barcelona got was Lionel Messi shooting from the edge of the box, getting a wonderful stop from Courtois in the 70th minute. There were a few balls Atletico struggled clearing in the final minutes, but in a match both teams seemed frightened to open things up too much, the 0-0 draw seemed like a good way to end things.

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