Atletico Madrid 0-0 Granada: Misfiring champions frustrated by LaLiga strugglers
Atletico Madrid's bid to qualify for the Champions League suffered a setback as they were held to a goalless draw by LaLiga strugglers Granada on Wednesday.
The toothless champions moved into second place, but had to settle for a point at the Wanda Metropolitano against a side fighting to avoid relegation.
Atleti lacked a cutting edge in their first game since Joao Felix was ruled out for the rest of the season with a hamstring injury, Matheus Cunha coming closest to breaking the deadlock when he struck the post late on.
Diego Simeone's misfiring side only had one shot on target as Granada dug in to frustrate them in a drab match that will not live long in the memory.
Yannick Carrasco was Atleti's match-winner in the dramatic defeat of Espanyol on Sunday and the Belgium winger had an early strike deflected wide after earning a place in the starting line-up.
Rodrigo de Paul had a chance to open the scoring when he was set up by Koke, but Luis Maximiano made a comfortable save diving to his left
Atleti wanted a penalty for Víctor Diaz's challenge on Antoine Griezmann, but both referee Jesus Gil Manzano and the VAR saw nothing untoward late in the first half.
Simeone responded to a disjointed first-half display by replacing Javier Serrano and Reinildo Mandava with Luis Suarez and Sime Vrsaljko at the break.
Griezmann came close with a powerful left-foot drive as Atleti applied the pressure, but Njegos Petrovic flashed a sweet strike just over the crossbar at the other end against the run of play.
Stefan Savic sliced a shot wide before Petrovic tried his luck once again, bending a long-range strike narrowly wide with Jan Oblak no more than a spectator.
The closing stages saw Savic head off target from a corner and Cunha turn sharply before rattling the upright from close range as Atleti were unable to fashion a winner.
What does it mean? Bore draw could cost Atleti
Atleti had 22 shots, but hit the target only once in a game they might have seen as a good opportunity to boost their goal difference.
A draw puts them just a point ahead of third-placed Barcelona and Sevilla in fourth spot, with their rivals having two games and one match in hand respectively.
Simeone's men have leaders Real Madrid, Sevilla and Real Sociedad to play in their five remaining LaLiga games, leaving them with a tough run-in to seal a top-four spot.
Carrasco offers a spark
While Atleti lacked creativity against a side in the relegation zone, the performance of Carrasco was one plus.
After coming off the bench to score twice – including a winner deep into stoppage time – last weekend, he had five attempts and tried to make things happen.
Correa off the pace
It was not a good evening for Atleti forward Angel Correa, who looked off the pace and was hauled off midway through the second half after failing to make an impact.
Atleti have 10 days to wait until they face Athletic Bilbao away from home in the Spanish top flight, while Granada entertain Celta Vigo a week on Sunday as they bid to move out of the bottom three.