MADRID (AP) — Winning has suddenly become a problem for Barcelona, and its double-digit cushion in the title race is proving useful.
Barcelona’s winless run reached three games after a 0-0 draw at Getafe in the Spanish league on Sunday, allowing second-place Real Madrid to cut into its lead again. The Catalan club still has an 11-point advantage over Madrid with nine rounds to go.
Madrid, which is mostly focused on the Champions League and the Copa del Rey, won 2-0 at Cadiz on Saturday.
“We have to start playing better again, we have to be more effective,” Barcelona coach Xavi said. “We earned a point that is not that bad, but we have to improve our game. This is not over yet.”
Xavi complained of the field conditions at Getafe’s stadium, and said Barcelona is not used to playing in the early games when it’s too sunny.
It was also Barcelona’s third straight game without finding the net. Striker Robert Lewandowski has scored only two goals in his last nine matches.
Seeking its first league title since 2019, Barcelona had been held to a scoreless draw by Girona at home in the previous round. Before that, it endured a demoralizing 4-0 loss to Madrid at the Camp Nou in the Copa del Rey semifinals. Barcelona had won five in a row before the defeat against Madrid in the Copa.
Barcelona’s next match is at home against third-place Atletico Madrid, which beat relegation-threatened Almeria to win its sixth straight and get back within two points of Madrid.
The league is the only competition Barcelona can still win in the rest of the season. It won the Spanish Super Cup in a final against Madrid earlier this year, but was eliminated in both the Champions League and the Europa League.
Getafe, which hasn’t won in three consecutive league matches, stayed in 15th place, four points above the relegation zone.
Barcelona’s last league title came when Lionel Messi was still in the team. It had won eight league titles in 11 seasons before finishing second in 2020, third in 2021 and second again — without Messi — last season.
The Catalan club has been under scrutiny over its payments of several millions of dollars over several years to a company that belonged to the former vice president of the country’s refereeing committee. The club will have to defend itself in the courts after being formally accused by prosecutors with alleged corruption, fraudulent management and falsification of documentation. Club president Joan Laporta is expected to talk about the issue in a news conference on Monday.
Atletico stayed close to Madrid and extended its unbeaten streak to 13 league games with Antoine Griezmann scoring twice in a 2-1 win against Almeria.
Both goals by Griezmann came in the first half. Almeria, sitting in 17th place just outside the relegation zone, scored through an own-goal by Atletico defender José María Gimenez.
Finishing second is important because it guarantees a spot in the lucrative Spanish Super Cup.
Valencia stayed in the relegation zone after a 2-0 loss to Sevilla at home.
It was the team’s third loss in its last four games — and 10th in its last 13 games.
Loic Bade and Suso scored second-half goals for Sevilla, which moved to 12th place.
Valencia is 18th, three points from safety.
Girona added to Elche’s struggles with a 2-0 win at home with goals by Taty Castellanos and Oriol Romeu.
It was the fourth straight loss for last-place Elche, which has only one win in its last nine matches. It sits 17 points from safety with nine rounds to go.
Girona has won two of its last four matches, moving to ninth place.
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