Barcelona and Atletico Madrid play out a goalless draw in their LaLiga clash at Camp Nou this afternoon.
The result favours Atletico more than Barca, although Real Madrid will be the happiest team in the battle for the crown.
Messi won an 89th minute free-kick but sent it just high and just wide. Neither he nor his old pal Luis Suarez would get the win they so wanted.
Diego Simeone’s men had the best of the first half, but were unable to break past Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
Atletico started well. Thomas Lemar had a shot saved by Marc-Andre ter Stegen. Suarez was fouled by Gerard Pique and took the free-kick himself which was saved by Ter Stegen.
Messi linked up with Antoine Griezmann, who had no such affection shown him by former Atletico team-mates. But the Frenchman’s pass went long.
After 12 minutes Saul Niguez replaced the hamstrung Thomas Lemar and Barcelona were soon forced into a change too.
Barca had same issue regarding Jan Oblak in the second half.
Busquets and Stefan Savic clashed heads and there was a drinks break in the 22 degrees heat while the midfielder received treatment.
Griezmann had a shot saved by Oblak while Barcelona were down to ten men. Busquets came back on but was soon dizzy again sitting down in the centre-circle before being replaced by Ilaix Moriba.
Suarez was always a threat in the first half and he began to clash with former team-mates. He was caught in the face by Pique in one clash and when Ter Stegen got a hand to both the ball and Suarez’ head.
The keeper shouted ‘no no no!’ when Suarez stayed down holding his head hoping for a penalty.
Suarez had earlier seen his shot saved by Ter Stegen at his near post. The keeper also saved from Marcos Llorente as Atletico had the better of things.
Saul was booked for a foul on Messi who lifted the tone considerably 10 minutes before the break weaving past four Atletico defenders. Oblak turned his shot away for a corner.
Barcelona’s best chance came five minutes from time when Ousmane Dembele had a free header on the edge of the six-yard box from Jordi Alba’s cross but got under it to send it sailing over Marc Andre ter Stegen’s bar.
Ousmane Dembele could have yet won the game late on for the hosts, only to head over the bar from close range.
Ronald Koeman and his team need a lot to go their way to win the title now.
Barcelona are next in action against Levante on the road on Tuesday. Atletico take on Real Sociedad at home on Wednesday.