Atletico Madrid endured another frustrating afternoon as they blew their chance to go top of the La Liga table after a draw with Leganes.
The game was short on key chances for both sides, and looked like following a similar pattern to the previous meetings between these sides at the Estadio Municipal de Butarque.
The deadlock was broken eventually though, as Atletico’s mercurial Frenchman Antoine Greizmann stepped up for his side to score a spectacular 25 yard free kick – a spark his side desperately needed on a relatively poor day.
They were pegged back however after Leganes scored from their own set piece the ball hitting the crossbar and falling on the goal line to substitute Guido Carillo, who tapped it home.
It proved to be another frustrating day for Diego Simeone and his side as they failed to set the pace and put pressure on Barcelona.
Key Talking Point
It was another big day for Leganes, having already beaten Barcelona at the Butarque this season. They stayed compact and in their shape for the majority of the game, and did an excellent job of frustrating their opponents.
They may be fighting relegation and battling to stay up, but they showed their defensive prowess here and battled hard to earn a key point. Their home form looks to be key for them and the big sides will be taking note and not taking a trip to Leganes lightly.
Starting XI: Cuellar (6); Tarin (7), Omeruo (6), Siovas (6); Juanfran (6), Perez (7), Recio (6), Silva (6); Rodriguez (7), El Zhar (7); En-Nesyri (8*)
Substitutes: Ojeda (6), Carillo (7), Santos (6)
Leganes’ big Moroccan forward En-Nesyri hassled and harried the Atletico back four all day and proved a real nuisance for Simeone and his side.
While he didn’t provide the goal for his side, he did create a number of chances; winning corners and free kicks off the Atletico defence, but his side just couldn’t convert them.
He was a real thorn in Atleti’s side, and moving forward will be key to any hopes Leganes have of retaining their La Liga status.
Key Talking Point
More dropped points for Atletico here – and it was a lack of goals and creativity that cost them again. They did get that goal through Greizmann, but their play was slow and predictable, and allowed Leganes to keep getting behind the ball and be tough to break down.
They have struggled for goals this season, and the fact Felipe Luis is their top scorer from left-back just shows that. Simeone invested heavily in the summer to boost his side’s firepower, but it hasn’t worked for them and solutions need to be found as soon as possible.
Starting XI: Oblak (6); Arias (7), Savic (7), Hernandez (6), Felipe Luis (7); Correa (6), Rodri (7), Saul (6), Lemar (6); Gelson (5), Griezmann (8*)
Substitutes: Vitolo (6), Partey (6), Kalinic (N/A)
The Frenchman is amongst the favourites for the Ballon d’Or, and proved exactly why here.
In a game that really lacked chances, he stepped up when his side was given a free kick 25 yards from goal and curled it into the top corner a goal worthy of winning any game.
He was the only real attacking force for his side all day and was often left isolated, but still showed his quality and had another couple of half chances that he almost converted. It will be his wonderful free kick that people talk about though.
Gelson Martins was the man tasked with replacing Diego Costa up front, and failed to make any impact at all.
He often drifted out of position into wide areas where he feels more comfortable, and left his strike partner Greizmann isolated.
He did earn the free kick from which Griezmann scored, but you have to feel the gamble on him up front didn’t pay off for Simeone.
Next up for Atleti is a crucial Champions League tie at home to Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday, as they look to avenge that humbling 4-0 defeat they suffered a fortnight ago in Germany and join Dortmund at the top of the group table.
In terms of the league they will be looking to get back to winning ways to keep pace with Barcelona when they welcome Athletic Bilbao to the Wanda Metropolitano next Saturday evening.
As for Leganes, they will look to move on and take confidence from this draw.