Sevilla And Atletico Share The Spoils
Sevilla and Atletico Madrid shared the spoils, as both were unable to close the gap on La Liga leaders Barcelona.
Wissam Ben Yedder gave Sevilla the lead nine minutes before half time. However, Atletico levelled just eight minutes later through a brilliant curling free kick from Antoine Griezmann.
Atletico were poor in the first half and were fortunate to be level at the break. Both sides had great chances in the second half to take all three points.
However, both had to settle for a point, which gives Barcelona the chance to stretch their lead at the top of the table, if they win against Getafe on Sunday evening.
Griezmann Brilliance Hauls Atletico Level
Sevilla made a bright start and were dominating possession early on. On 14 minutes, a volley from midfielder Roque Mesa from inside the penalty area went way wide.
Atletico Madrid’s best move of the first half came on 26 minutes. Thomas Lemar and Angel Correa combined to set up Antoine Griezmann.
The Frenchman unleashed a shot from 20-yards out, which was well saved by Thomas Vaclik in the Sevilla goal.
Four minutes later, Sevilla almost opened the scoring. A cross from the right-hand side from Jesus Navas found it’s way through to Sergio Escudero at the back post. However, the Spaniard’s header went way over the bar.
Sevilla came within inches of taking the lead after 36 minutes. A thunderous strike from just outside the box from Adrien Silva, cannoned off the inside of the post with Jan Oblak beaten in the Atletico goal.
Seconds later, Los Hispalenses did find the breakthrough. A great cross into the box from Jesus Navas was flicked on by defender Daniel Carrico.
The ball found it’s way to Wissam Ben Yedder who slid the ball into the net.
On the stroke of half time, Atletico were level against the run of play. Antoine Griezmann brilliantly curled a free kick from 20-yards out into the net, which left Thomas Vaclik rooted to the spot.
It was the last action of the first half, which saw Diego Simeone’s side fortunate to be level.
Better From Atletico
Atletico Madrid started the second half the brighter and with more attacking intent than they did in the first half.
Saul Niguez had a shot from inside the box, which was well saved by Sevilla keeper Thomas Vacilk.
Atletico were beginning to control the tempo of the game and started to dominate possession.
On 64 minutes, a corner from Thomas Partley found Saul Niguez inside the box, his header though went straight at Vacilk.
Sevilla had a great chance to take the lead once again just five minutes later.
A great cross by Jesus Navas was headed back into the danger area. The ball fell to Wissam Ben Yedder but he hit his shot wide of goal when he really should have hit the target.
With eight minutes to go, Atletico spurned a great chance to take the lead. A neat through ball from Thomas set Griezmann in on goal, but his shot is poor and is easily saved by the Sevilla goalkeeper.
Both sides were now pushing for the winner. Sevilla defender Joris Gnagnon hit a powerful curling shot from 20-yards out, which forced a diving save from Jan Oblak in the Atletico goal.
Neither team could force the decisive goal, as both could lose ground in the La Liga title race.
Missed Opportunity For Sevilla
Sevilla boss Pablo Machin will see this as a missed opportunity for his side.
They were by far the better team in the first half but were unable to turn their dominance into a significant lead.
On the stroke of half time, they were punished by a moment of brilliance from Antoine Griezmann. After conceding the goal, they were unable to control the game like they did in the first.
The result could see them fall seven points behind Barcelona, if they defeat Getafe on Sunday evening.
There is no doubt that the Andalucians have perfomed well above expectations this season. If Pablo Machin’s side can finish in the Champions League places, they will view it as a successful campaign.
It will be tough ask though, given how early they started their season due to the Europa League qualifiers. Machin will be hoping that the winter break will help refresh his players for the second half of the season.
Atletico Need To Sort Out Away Form
If Atletico Madrid are going to win the La Liga title, they have to sort out their dire away form.
Incredibly, they have won just two of their nine La Liga away games this season. They may have lost just once but have drawn far too many games with six draws away from home.
There is the argument that Diego Simeone has set his team up too negatively, with too much emphasis on defence rather than attack.
If they want to win the La Liga title, the Argentine manager will have to change that philosophy.
In previous seasons, Atletico would see themselves at least ten points behind the leaders given the amount of dropped points this campaign.
However, ahead of Barcelona’s game with Getafe, they are only two points behind them.
They will have to improve on their first half display against Sevilla, which was awful.
If they can start turning draws into wins, they will be in the mix come the end of the season.
Next up for Atletico is Girona away in the Copa del Rey. Meanwhile, Sevilla face Athletic Bilbao away in the same competition.
Photo credit to Dickson Dagogo via Flickr