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Atletico draw to leave Barcelona even closer to title


Madrid (AFP) – Atletico Madrid warmed up for their Europa League clash with Arsenal by playing out a 0-0 draw with in-form Betis in La Liga on Sunday, a result that left Barcelona closer still to the Spanish title.

Antoine Griezmann was left out of the starting line-up by coach Diego Simeone and Atletico drew a second blank in four days, following their 3-0 defeat away at Real Sociedad on Thursday.

Atletico remain second but with four games left they are 11 points behind unbeaten La Liga leaders Barcelona, who can clinch the title next weekend when they go to Deportivo.

Barcelona won the Copa del Rey at Atletico’s Wanda Metropolitano with a 5-0 rout of Sevilla on Saturday, but there was decidedly less drama at the same stadium 24 hours later.

Saul Niguez struck the woodwork for Atletico in the second half, not long after Cristian Tello had hit the post for Betis at the other end.

Griezmann came off the bench just after the hour mark, but Simeone’s side could not get the breakthrough and they are four points clear of third-placed Real Madrid, who have a game in hand having not played this weekend.

Atletico head to London for their Europa League semi-final first leg against Arsenal on Thursday.

Betis, meanwhile, consolidate their hold on fifth place after extending their unbeaten run to seven games. European football seems a certainty now for them next season.

Elsewhere on Sunday, Las Palmas had their relegation from La Liga confirmed following an emphatic 4-0 defeat at home to Alaves.

The club from Gran Canaria needed a win to keep alive their slim hopes of staying in Spain’s top flight for a fourth straight season.

However, they suffered a fifth successive defeat in front of a sparse crowd on a wet Sunday in the Canary Islands, with Barcelona loanee Munir El Haddadi’s second-half brace having Alaves in control before Alvaro Medran and Ruben Sobrino added late goals.

They are the second team to be relegated from La Liga after bottom club Malaga’s fate was sealed in midweek.

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