Barcelona frustrated by Getafe

20

Barcelona slipped four points behind Primera Division leaders Real Madrid after drawing a blank on a damp and luckless afternoon at Getafe. Luis Enrique's side could even have lost the game in the final seconds of stoppage time as substitute Alvaro Vazquez muscled his way towards goal, but the final whistle was blown before the striker could get his shot away, with the game ending 0-0. The result means Real Madrid are guaranteed to be top of the table at Christmas, while Atletico Madrid could go level on points with Barcelona if they beat Villarreal on Sunday. Luis Enrique recalled Claudio Bravo, Dani Alves, Jordi Alba, Xavi and Ivan Rakitic to the team following the 3-1 win over Paris St Germain, but Neymar missed out due to an ankle problem and Andres Iniesta started on the bench. Barca were unable to find their usual groove in attack without the in-form Brazilian and were perhaps also feeling the effects of their impressive win over the French champions, as they produced a sluggish performance and were frustrated by the little space Cosmin Contra's tireless side afforded them. Indeed, the closest the Catalans came to scoring was from a Lionel Messi free-kick that hit the woodwork. The game took a while to get going but midway through the first half both sides had big shouts for penalties in the space of a minute. Getafe defender Juan Valera appeared to swipe the ball with his hand while on the ground in his own area, and then at the other end a cross from Angel Lafita struck the hand of Dani Alves – but referee Inaki Vicandi Garrido waved both appeals away. Just after the half hour mark Getafe created the first real chance of the game. Lafita beat Alves to the ball on the left and cut inside to curl the ball towards the far corner, but Bravo got his fingertips to the shot to turn it around the post. A few minutes later Luis Suarez danced his way past Valera on the left and crossed for Pedro but the forward flapped at the ball and failed to connect with it. Barca came closest to finding the elusive goal a few minutes into the second half, when Messi curled a free-kick off the crossbar. The Argentinian was handed a similar opportunity later in the half and this time managed to get his shot on target, but it was beaten away by Vicente Guaita. The visitors were unable to create any other clear chances, their only memorable efforts a skied effort from Xavi and a header from Messi that also cleared the bar.