Spain’s league leaders, Barcelona Football Club, drew goalless on Saturday when they visited the tournament’s final qualifier, the modest Huesca, in a match in which the Azulgranas reserved many headlines for next week’s Champions League clash with Manchester United.
The draw means second-placed Atletico Madrid could narrow Barcelona’s 12-point gap with 74 points if they beat Celta Vigo later in the day.
With the title virtually assured after last weekend’s 2-0 win over Atleti, coach Ernesto Valverde lined up a radically different team from the one that won 1-0 at Old Trafford on Wednesday in the first leg of the Champions League Round of 16, introducing 10 changes and allowing three players to make their league debut.
19-year-old midfielder Riqui Puig was one of the debutants, starring in some of the best moments in the first half with little action. In one move, he gave Ousmane Dembele a marvelous chance, but the striker shot wide.
Brazilian Malcolm crashed the ball into a post at the beginning of the second half and team-mate Carles Aleana did not take advantage of the rebound, in the best moment of the azulgranas after the break. Later, the entry from the bench of regulars like Philippe Coutinho, Jordi Alba, and Arthur Melo failed to improve the mordant leaders of the league.
Huesca desperately needed victory to keep their slim hopes of staying in Spain’s top flight alive, but they failed to create much danger and will go one more week at the bottom of the table with 25 points from 32 games.