Atletico Madrid took another step to recording a completely unbeaten home season and recorded a disciplined performance ahead of their Europa League clash with Arsenal on Thursday with a 0-0 draw with Real Betis on Sunday evening.
Fernando Torres came closest to opening the scoring in the first half, with his lobbed effort cleared off the line before both sides clattered the woodwork through Cristian Tello and Saul Niguez during the second 45.
However, despite the free-flowing and end-to-end contest, neither side were able to break one another down; stretching the visitors' consecutive clean sheets to six games while keeping Rojiblancos' stupendous record of conceding just four goals at home all term intact.
Atletico Madrid have only conceded four goals at home since 20th of November 2017 and haven’t conceded at all at La Peinta since January 20th.— Robbie Fahy (@RFahy00) April 2, 2018
Is there a team that defines defensive solidity more than themselves and Juventus?
An electric Estadio Wanda Metropolitano played a deafening chorus to the opening stages of the contest, much like its role in the Copa del Rey final a mere 19 hours beforehand, and as it has continued to do so gradually as the Estadio Vicente Calderon drifts out of the Atleti faithful's hearts.
And it was those watching on in red and white who were brought to their feet first shortly before the 10-minute mark, as Torres; currently enjoying his long goodbye from his boyhood side, was found in space inside the area before flicking a volleyed attempt towards goal.
The effort was initially superbly stopped by the strong diving claw of Dani Gimenez, in for the injured Antonio Adan, although the ball made its way towards the visitors' goal-line leaving the 34-year-old scrambling.
However, whether it crossed the line mattered little, as the official, correctly, called the veteran striker offside, but it offered a warning to the in-form Betis, who had undoubtedly had the better opportunities up to that point yet lacked the decisive pass in the final third.
And 'El Niño' offered further concern for Quique Setien's men, who again came undone via a counterattack after finding themselves well placed in Atletico Madrid's half, midway through the first half as the 34-year-old found space in behind the Beticos defensive line before rounding Gimenez and lifting a goal-bound dink over the top of the goalkeeper, only for the heroics of Aissa Mandi to clear it from the goal-line with a diving header.
After going close, Rojiblancos found themselves in the ascendency, with the hosts seeing a greater share of possession in and around the opposition area, although, like Betis before them, they struggled to land a significant blow to the Andalusians, and the scores remained level as referee Martinez Munuera brought an end to the first half.
#AtletiRealBetis 0-0 HT: A half of two halves. Betis fashioned the more promising openings during the early exchanges, with Atletico coming back as the 45 went on. The visitors have Mandi to thank, however, with the defender's goal-line clearance denying Torres a certain goal.— Joe Owens (@jwpowens) April 22, 2018
After the break, the hosts' tempo dramatically increased, and had Vitolo been able to guide what looked a relatively simple finish on target, Diego Simeone could have seen his side go ahead in the early moments.
Angel Correa found space down the right-hand side before laying up a beautifully weighted cross, causing substitute goalkeeper Pedro Lopez troubles while reduced to his goal-line, but the 28-year-old winger could only slice his volleyed effort wide, when, in truth, it looked easier to score.
And less than 10 minutes later it was the turn of Beticos to spurn a glorious opportunity as Tello accelerated away from Stefan Savic, with the ball eventually deflecting into the path of Ryad Boudebouz before the Frenchman fired his cross towards the back post and Javi Garcia, but the defensive-minded midfielder's air-shot while in acres of space was not the finish the attack deserved.
Chances either end now - Boudebouz puts one on a plate for Javi Garcia - but misjudges and misses ball completely when unmarked eight yards out.— Dermot Corrigan (@dermotmcorrigan) April 22, 2018
After passing up on their clear opening, Betis continued, as they had in the first half, to assert their dominance in possession, and Tello was inches away from giving his side the lead with less than 25 minutes to go as his left-footed effort from the edge of the area beat Jan Oblak, but failed against the Slovenian's left-hand upright.
But less than 10 minutes later, it was Saul's turn to come a lick of paint away from securing his side the advantage after unleashing a stunning left-footed curling thunderbolt from around 20 yards; however, as Tello had experienced moments before, the woodwork came between the difference being evident on the scoreboard.
And despite tempers flaring in the final moments as Koke's clash with substitute Joel Campbell provoked a coming together between several players from either side, neither were able to create any further openings with the tie eventually ending all square.