Barcelona's La Liga title bid takes hit after lifeless draw at Getafe

BY foxsports • December 13, 2014

Barcelona's La Liga title bid suffered a blow as Luis Enrique's side was held to an unlikely draw 0-0 at Getafe on Saturday.

The Catalan giants found themselves frustrated for long periods of the game as Getafe held firm at the back and, although the visitors piled on the pressure towards the end, they failed to secure a ninth successive win in all competitions and now sit four points adrift of table-topping Real Madrid.

"I think we were much better than them [Getafe]," said Barca manager Luis Enrique after the draw. "Despite how difficult it is to play against Getafe, we had a lot of chances. You can make any interpretations about the game, but if we had scored any of our chances, we would be talking about a good Barca performance."

Fresh from beating Paris Saint-Germain 3-1 in the UEFA Champions League in midweek, Barca dominated possession throughout at a wet and windy Coliseum Alfonso Perez and kept Getafe camped in its own half for much of the match. Both sides had penalty shouts rejected in the first period, while Barca came closest to breaking the deadlock when Lionel Messi saw a free kick come back off the crossbar just after the break.

After a quiet start in Madrid, Barca eventually crafted its first opportunity in the 18th minute, but Messi could only poke right at Vicente Guaita after pouncing on Ivan Rakitic's blocked effort. Getafe escaped unscathed once again shortly after, as Luis Suarez steered Xavi's wayward shot just over the crossbar from six yards out.

Both sides then had penalty shouts denied by referee Inaki Bikandi, as first Getafe's Juan Valera and then Dani Alves - making his 200th Liga appearance for Barca - appeared to handle in their respective penalty areas. Getafe seemingly grew in confidence as the first half progressed and Claudio Bravo was forced into action to keep Barca level in the 33rd minute, tipping Angel Lafita's fierce drive around the post in acrobatic fashion.

Barca began the second half with renewed focus and came close to going ahead in the 47th minute, but Xavi could only get a slight touch on  Ivan Rakitic's lofted pass into the area, with Guaita saving comfortably. And Barca went even closer shortly after, with the crossbar saving the helpless Guaita to keep out Messi's curling free kick.

The Argentinian troubled Guaita again from another free kick in the 58th minute, as the goalkeeper parried the low effort away at his near post. Getafe started to look desperate as the match entered its closing stages, but Barca was unable to open the home team up and had to settle for a disappointing draw -- a result that will delight Getafe's neighbor Real.

"There is a lot of the championship to play," Luis Enrique told reporters. "We have been first with four points more than the [team in] second and now we are four points behind. Obviously, we would like to be on the top but La Liga is like this.

"We have to accept that, try to improve and make self-criticism. So, we have to analyze what we can improve but we already knew this was a difficult game. We did our best against a tough rival."

Valencia had no such trouble scoring at home in a 3-0 win over Rayo Vallecano, striking three times in the first half to put the result beyond doubt before the break.

Forward Sofiane Feghouli scored in the 13th and 34th minutes before Pablo Piatti added another in the 36th. Valencia played the final 20 minutes with 10 men after Andre Gomes was sent off.

Valencia remained in fifth place but closed to within one point of fourth-place Sevilla. Rayo and Getafe both stayed in the middle of the table.

Later, Malaga welcomes Celta Vigo and Levante visits Cordoba.

On Sunday, it's: Espanyol vs. Granada; Sevilla vs. Eibar; Atletico Madrid vs. Villarreal; and Real Sociedad vs. Athletic Bilbao. Deportivo La Coruna hosts Elche to close round 15 on Monday.

Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report. FOX Soccer and Goal.com have teamed up to bring you the best in world soccer coverage. Visit Goal.com, and follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

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