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In-form Atletico held by Racing
A series of spurned chances saw Atletico Madrid draw 0-0 at struggling Racing Santander but the revival under Diego Simeone continued as they push for a place in Europe.
Atletico have now moved up to sixth place while they are unbeaten in six games and yet to concede a goal under the new Argentine coach although this was their second consecutive goalless stalemate.
Racing needed the points without a win in three games but although they offered plenty of spirit it was always the visitors who looked more likely to score.
Radamel Falcao, with 14 goals so far this campaign, missed the first clear opening, a header after 11 minutes, and Atletico went on to have several opportunities from the edge of the area from Diego, Felipe Luis and Arda Turan but they found Racing keeper Antonio Rodriguez in fine form.
Adrian Lopez then shot wide from close range before the break and after the restart Diego and Falcao both hit the post as Racing?s luck held out and the result sees them climb out of the relegation zone if only for 24 hours.
Later Barcelona take on Osasuna trailing leaders Real Madrid, who are in action against Levante, by seven points but defender Gerard Pique says that they will keep fighting to the end to claw back the difference.
While the Catalan side have come out on top when they have faced Real so far this season, beating them in the league and knocking them out of the cup, their stuttering away form has seen them fall seven points behind in the league.
They cannot afford another slip-up this weekend in Pamplona while they will be hoping that fourth-placed Levante can do them a favour against Real at the Bernabeu.
The dropped points have been blamed on many reasons from a small squad and injuries through to a lack of desire but the fact is that they have won only four of 10 matches on their travels.
At the same time Real continue to roll over their opposition having won 18 of 21 games and scored 71 goals in the process, 10 more than Barca, the side widely admired over recent years for their attacking football.
"I would have signed for where we are at the moment at the start of the season. We are very much alive in the league, in the Champions League and in the final of the cup," said Pique, with Barca?s midweek win over Valencia setting them up for a repeat of the 2009 King?s Cup final against Athletic Bilbao.
Real coach Jose Mourinho is not getting carried away and also feels that the title contest will not be decided imminently.
"February is possibly more difficult for us than Barcelona as we take on Levante, Racing (Santander) who are improving, Rayo (Vallecano), without doubt the surprise package this season, and then Espanyol who are fighting for a place in Europe," he said.
"Levante are good side and not just for the fact they have beaten Barcelona but also for where they are in the table. In October and November everyone thought they would run out of steam."
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