Atletico Madrid’s stuttering start to the 2016-17 LaLiga season continued with a 0-0 draw at promoted Leganes on Saturday in spite of Antoine Griezmann’s return.
Atletico only had to make a short trip south to Leganes but again they were a world away from their usual standard, following up last week’s Alaves stalemate with a similarly underwhelming result.
Once again, Diego Simeone’s men had difficulty finding a way through a dogged defence, with the hosts’ goalkeeper Jon Ander Serantes only troubled once by Griezmann in the first period, with the Frenchman largely unimpressive on his return from suspension.
Toothless Atletico often looked riled by Leganes’ strong tackling and that bite played a significant role in limiting the visitors’ more creative players, with Koke particularly quiet.
Atletico continued to throw men forward towards the end but ultimately Leganes had little trouble holding out for a point in their first ever top-flight Madrid derby.
The opening exchanges at Butarque bore a strong resemblance to Atletico’s last league outing at home to Alaves, as they saw a lot of the ball but struggled to break down a compact defence.
Even with the return of Griezmann in attack, Atletico lacked craft in their build-up play, resulting in the match regularly becoming messy and bogged down in midfield.
The visitors were eventually presented with an opening in the 25th minute, though it was borne more out of determination than creativity.
Kevin Gameiro linked with Koke inside the area and the midfielder bundled his way between two defenders before teeing up the Frenchman, only for the striker to miscue his effort which ultimately went out for a throw-in.
But craft was key to their next opportunity, as Gabi’s floated pass into the left side of the area was perfectly weighted for Griezmann, who saw his stinging left-footed volley brilliantly saved by Serantes.
Atletico failed to produce much of an improvement after the break and Simeone responded in the 58th minute by replacing the ineffective Gameiro with Fernando Torres.
Diego Godin saw a well-worked 62nd-minute goal disallowed after straying well offside, as the away side continued to be kept at bay by the disciplined hosts.
Atletico’s frustrations seemed to be summed up by Jan Oblak’s apparent kick out at Miguel Angel Guerrero 13 minutes from time, but the goalkeeper was not punished by the referee.
Torres should have eased the tension for Atletico in stoppage time, though. The striker got in behind his marker and met Filipe Luis’ sumptuous left-wing cross, but he could only direct his header straight into the hands of the grateful Serantes as Leganes just about held on for a commendable point.