Karim Benzema insists "there is a long way to go" in the LaLiga title race after Real Madrid made up ground on leaders Atletico Madrid.

Benzema opened the scoring on the hour-mark and Ferland Mendy doubled the lead as Zinedine Zidane’s side claimed a 2-0 victory against Getafe on Tuesday.

Atleti were held to a 2-2 home draw by Celta Vigo on Monday as Los Blancos closed the gap to five points at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano, although Diego Simeone’s team still have two games in hand.

But that does not matter to Benzema, who headed in Vinicius Junior's cross to net his 16th goal of the season in all competitions, and the France international striker believes Madrid have Atleti in their sights.

"It was a good goal, a good centre from Vini and the ball goes in. I think we are back," Benzema told Movistar.

"It is always very difficult against Getafe. We will continue like this. There is a long way to go until the end.

"Each game is a final and we have to try to win every one. We are confident.

"There is always a lot of noise around Madrid because this is the best club in the world."

Next up for Madrid is a meeting with Valencia on Sunday, while table-toppers Atletico travel to face Granada on Saturday.

Third-placed Barcelona, who are three points behind Madrid and eight points off the top, host Deportivo Alaves on Saturday following their Copa Del Rey semi-final first leg against Sevilla on Wednesday.

Real Madrid will "keep on fighting" in this season's LaLiga title race, says Zinedine Zidane, whose side are five points shy of leaders Atletico Madrid.

Atleti's draw with Celta Vigo on Monday gave Madrid the opportunity to make up some ground when they faced Getafe on Tuesday, and Los Blancos cruised to a comfortable 2-0 win.

Karim Benzema's fifth headed goal of the season in all competitions – more than any other LaLiga player other than Sevilla's Youssef En-Nesyri – put Madrid ahead with an hour played before Ferland Mendy turned home Marcelo's cross.

Getafe were hardly robust opposition, however, with Jose Bordalas' side mustering just one attempt in the entire match. Indeed, Thibaut Courtois did not have to make a save, claim a catch or punch a cross clear.

It is the lowest amount of shots Madrid have faced in a LaLiga match since 2004-05, while have scored just 17 goals in the league this term - their lowest tally in a single season after 22 games played.

Nevertheless, Madrid did what was required of them and moved back into second place, three points above Barcelona and five behind Atleti, though Diego Simeone's side have two games in hand.

Zidane insisted Madrid's focus is simply on taking it game by game as they hope to retain their title.

"It will not change anything, we will do our thing. Our duty is to fight, to continue with our work, without paying attention to others," said Zidane, after seeing his side win back-to-back games for the first time in 2021.

"It's a good win. They are two consecutive victories, we needed it. Also with many injuries. We needed it now.

"I don't think there are Madridistas who think we're going to lose the league. On the contrary, they think we can always change things and that is what we are going to try to do. 

"With difficulties, it is clear, but we continue to do our thing. You have to keep fighting, little by little."

With Madrid cruising, Zidane introduced the lesser-spotted Isco in the 75th minute – the playmaker having not featured since January 23 due to a back injury.

Isco has made just three LaLiga starts this season and has created five chances – registering one assist – across 12 league appearances in total.

"Isco couldn't start," Zidane explained when asked why Isco, who was linked with a move away in January, was on the bench.

"He has only trained once with the team. Then he entered the game a little later. It was just that, because he only did one training session with us."

Karim Benzema proved decisive yet again for Real Madrid as Zinedine Zidane's side took advantage of Atletico Madrid's slip-up by beating Getafe 2-0 in LaLiga.

After a run of four league matches against Getafe without being directly involved in a goal, Benzema headed Madrid in front an hour into Tuesday's clash.

In a match of few clear-cut opportunities, Benzema had previously gone close to breaking the deadlock when he hit the bar 14 minutes in.

Ferland Mendy made sure of what could prove a valuable victory, given city rivals and LaLiga leaders Atleti were pegged back late on and could only draw with Celta Vigo on Monday.

Madrid relied on Raphael Varane to snatch a late winner at Huesca last time out but aimed to make a fast start this time around – Casemiro blazing over from point-blank range before Benzema's header struck the crossbar.

Los Blancos saw just under 70 per cent possession in the first half, yet ultimately their only shot on target came when Luka Modric forced David Soria into an awkward stop.

Soria was called into action much sooner in the second half, making himself big to deny Benzema from a tight angle.

A neat passage of play from Getafe saw Marc Cucurella get into a similar position down the other end, yet the former Barcelona man's touch let him down.

Getafe were duly punished – Benzema making no mistake on this occasion as he directed Vinicius Junior's pinpoint cross beyond Soria.

It was 2-0 six minutes later, Marcelo drilling a low left-wing cross to the front post, with Mendy on hand to turn home his first LaLiga goal of 2020-21.

Benzema curled wide soon after, but Getafe never came close to testing Thibaut Courtois as Madrid cruised to a routine triumph.

Zinedine Zidane has denied suggestions he is close to leaving Real Madrid, though offered no guarantees about his future.

Madrid boss Zidane defiantly declared prior to last Saturday's meeting with Huesca he would not throw in the towel after seeing his team beat Deportivo Alaves and lose at home to Levante in his absence due to a positive coronavirus test.

Prior to that, Los Blancos lost in the Supercopa de Espana semi-finals against Athletic Bilbao and suffered a humiliating Copa del Rey exit at the hands of third-tier Alcoyano.

Although Madrid came from behind to beat Huesca 2-1 to record their second win in six games, Zidane still faced questions about his future ahead of a clash with Getafe on Tuesday.

When it was put to him his comments last week led to some concerns among fans that he could be on his way out of the club, Zidane replied on Monday: "No, listen, the important thing is the day-to-day work, that's what we're doing. The other day, whatever happened, we're just going to work.

"Everyone is here, we're just going to try to work. And the rest, everyone has freedom to have their opinion, that's normal.

"Everyone can say what they say, but I can also say what we're going to do here: that's work hard, believe in what we're doing and try to recover a bit of confidence and end the season well."

He added: "Why would I abandon Real Madrid? I'm doing what I like here. This is football; there are tough moments, but you just get on with it.

"We are just going to fight and battle, we need to do things properly with this team. Real Madrid is a great club and what you have to do is compete. There will always be changes here.

"We're all in the same boat here. I feel supported by everybody. You have to say what you have to say but we know what we have to do here. We just have to do things well, like we were doing just three or four weeks ago.

"There are difficult moments in a season, you have to accept it, and that helps you in more difficult moments. That's what we want to do, we want to change the situation.

"We've got important players, they're very good, they've won a lot, and nothing is going to stop us working hard for the rest of the season."

However, when asked if he would see out his contract, which runs until 2022, Zidane did not offer a straight answer.

"Well, we'll see," he said. "The important thing is, I said it to the other reporters, we're just focused on this season, the game tomorrow.

"I just focus on the day-to-day, today, tomorrow, the game. As for the rest, I don't know what's going to happen so I'm not thinking about anything apart from the game tomorrow."

Even in these extraordinary times, Barcelona letting Luis Suarez go to Atletico Madrid is starting to look like the oddest decision of the season.

Suarez's double over Eibar on Thursday secured a 2-1 victory for the league leaders, who are seven points clear at the top with a game in hand over champions Real Madrid in second.

The Uruguay star, who has netted six in his past six league games for Atleti, is joint-top of the division's scoring charts alongside former team-mate Lionel Messi.

It seems increasingly likely that Suarez, and certainly Atletico, will be at the top of the tree come the end of 2020-21.

With the majority of sides having now played half of their matches, the Stats Perform AI team have run the numbers to simulate how the rest of the LaLiga campaign will play out – and it's good news for Diego Simeone.

 

The data model estimates the probability of each match outcome – either a win, draw or loss – based on each team's attacking and defensive quality.

Those ratings are allocated based on four years' worth of comprehensive historic data points and results, with more weighting given to recent matches to account for improvements or declines in form and performance trends.

The AI simulation takes into account the quality of the opposition that a team scores or concedes goals against and rewards them accordingly.

All that data is used to simulate upcoming matches using goal predictions from the Poisson distribution – a detailed mathematical model – with the two teams' attacking and defending ratings used as inputs.

The outcome of the season is then simulated on 10,000 different occasions in order to generate the most accurate possible percentage chance of each team finishing in their ultimate league position.

 

ATLETICO WIN AT A CANTER

Atletico have been given a 75.1 per cent chance of winning LaLiga, according to the model.

Simeone's men are predicted to finish on 86 points, nine clear of the rest of the field. They are given just a 17.8 per cent chance of coming second and dropping outside the top four is considered practically impossible.

Barcelona and reigning champions Real Madrid are predicted to end with 77 points apiece, with just a 12.4 per cent chance each of pipping Atleti to the title. Madrid have a 41 per cent chance of finishing second, slightly above Barca's 39.4, having beaten Ronald Koeman's side 3-1 in the first Clasico of the season at Camp Nou last October.

Those two are, at least, very likely to end up in a Champions League place. They are expected to be joined there by Sevilla, who have a 47.8 per cent chance of finishing fourth on 65 points, just three above Villarreal and six clear of Real Sociedad. The remaining European spot is predicted to be a close battle between Granada, Getafe and Real Betis, with Diego Martinez's men odds on to snatch it.

Valencia fans might be enduring a difficult time (again), and our sim has Los Che missing out on European football once more, if only by four points. That said, they still have a 3.6 per cent chance of a Europa League spot, which is better odds than those given to Supercopa de Espana winners Athletic Bilbao.

 

WOE FOR HUESCA

At the other end of a relatively tight table, in which just 11 points will separate seventh from 16th, it looks like Huesca are in for a tough run-in. They are given a 59.7 per cent chance of finishing bottom of the pile and just a 5.1 per cent shot at avoiding relegation, having won only once so far this term.

Osasuna are predicted to end up just four points above them, with the bottom three likely to be completed by Deportivo Alaves, although Elche will also be right in the mix. In fact, with those two tipped to finish level on 39 points, survival could come down to their head-to-head record, making their showdown on May 11 potentially decisive. Elche have the advantage there, having won the reverse game 2-0 away from home.

Real Valladolid are expected to have just enough to stay out of trouble, although they have scant room for manoeuvre, with our predictor giving them an equal 15.1 per cent chance of finishing 17th and 18th.

Eibar and Cadiz are looking likely to stay safe; indeed, Jose Luis Mendilibar's men, along with Celta Vigo and Athletic, are given a 0.1 per cent chance of gatecrashing the top four. They might well have boosted those odds this week were it not for that pesky Suarez.

Real Madrid prospect Takefusa Kubo has joined Getafe on loan until the end of the season after ending a similar deal with Villarreal.

The 19-year-old was expected to spend the entire 2020-21 campaign with the Yellow Submarine after signing a season-long deal in August.

However, he had made just two La Liga starts by the turn of the year - a fact that, according to Villarreal coach Unai Emery, contributed to the Japan international instigating an early end to the clubs' temporary agreement.

The Spanish champions have now looked to ensure Kubo gets adequate playing time between now and the season's end by agreeing a new loan deal with neighbours Getafe.

Jose Bordalas' side sit in a perilous position in the Spanish top-flight, with just one point separating them from the relegation zone.

It will be hoped that Kubo, who enjoyed a more productive loan spell at Real Mallorca last term, can prove the catalyst for a move up the table.

His fine form in 2019-20 was ultimately insufficient in this regard as Mallorca suffered relegation despite Kubo chipping in with four goals and four assists.

He impressed with his brave and direct play on the ball, which was reflected by the fact he attempted 140 dribbles in LaLiga, a number bettered by only four players including Lionel Messi.

Kubo has at least tried to bring a similar quality to Villarreal, with his 5.6 attempted dribbles per 90 minutes the 14th highest figure among all players to have featured at least seven times this term.

But his efforts did not translate into regular starts for Unai Emery's men.

Barcelona midfielder Carles Alena has joined Getafe on loan for the remainder of the campaign.

The Barca academy product spent the second half of 2019-20 on loan with Real Betis and has struggled to establish himself under Ronald Koeman since returning ahead of this season.

Alena has made five appearances in LaLiga and the Champions League this term, just one of those coming from the start.

Koeman confirmed on Tuesday that Alena was close to departing Camp Nou on a temporary basis after Getafe president Angel Torres had revealed his side's interest.

Barca announced on their official website on Wednesday that the deal had gone through, with Getafe to pick up the player's wages in full until he returns to Catalonia.

Alena has played 43 times for Barcelona in total since making his first-team debut in the 2016-17 campaign.

Including his spell on loan with Betis last season, the 23-year-old has three goals and zero assists across 43 LaLiga outings, the first of those coming against Granada on April 2, 2017.

He may only have created one big chance for team-mates in that time, but the Spain Under-21s international ranks highly in terms of passes in the opposition half, averaging 47.45 per 90 minutes.

That places him behind only eight players who have featured at least 16 times across that period.

Barcelona have given midfielder Carles Alena permission to leave the club this month, with the player expected to move on loan.

The 23-year-old La Masia product has struggled to establish himself under Ronald Koeman this season, with only one of his five appearances across LaLiga and the Champions League coming in the starting XI.

Alena spent the second half of last season on loan at Real Betis and Getafe have been linked with his services on a deal that will likely run until the end of the season.

"Alena has permission from the club to seek his exit," Koeman told a news conference ahead of Wednesday's trip to Athletic Bilbao.

"When everything is done, I will be able to give an opinion, but there are players who can decide to stay or not. He has decided to seek his exit."

Barca's preparations for their visit to San Mames were hit by two positive coronavirus cases among the club staff on Monday.

That forced pre-match training and media duties to be postponed until later on Tuesday, when Koeman's squad were confirmed to have a clean bill of health in terms of COVID-19.

"There are things in life that cannot be controlled," the former Netherlands boss said.

"We have followed the protocol by suspending the training this morning and repeating the PCR tests.

"We could only hope that there were no more positives. Thank goodness that everyone has come out negative and we were able to prepare for tomorrow's game. "

Barcelona head into the match in fifth, 10 points behind leaders Atletico Madrid having played a game more.

Despite a hectic fixture schedule this month, Koeman has not ruled out bringing in reinforcements to bolster an ailing title challenge.

"Any team looks at how the squad can be improved in January," he added.

"I make my plans on seeing the casualties we may have and what players [we need] to bring.

"But if it is not possible, I will have the same players."

Real Madrid youngster Takefusa Kubo is looking to cut short his loan spell with Villarreal and join another club, the Yellow Submarine's head coach Unai Emery has confirmed.

Kubo has started just two LaLiga games for Villarreal since joining on a season-long deal from Madrid in August and was not part of the squad for Saturday's 2-1 win over Levante.

Getafe president Angel Torres revealed his side's interest in the Japan international this week and reports from Spain suggest the Madrid-based club are close to striking a deal.

Speaking after his side's victory against Levante, which moved Villarreal up to fourth, Emery admitted it is likely the winger will move on.

"I asked Kubo if he wanted to stay or leave [Villarreal] and he told me that he is looking for a way out," he said at his post-match news conference. 

"Take's behaviour is good, he has helped us and he must continue to grow as a player. 

"However, he told me he wants to leave in order to find more minutes elsewhere and that's why he wasn't in the matchday squad today."

Kubo was snapped up by Madrid from FC Tokyo in 2019 and spent last season on loan with Real Mallorca, where he enjoyed more success than his current spell with Villarreal.

He scored four and assisted four more in 35 appearances but was unable to save Mallorca from relegation in their first season back in the top tier.

The 19-year-old has been used 19 times in total by Villarreal this season, 13 of those appearances coming in LaLiga.

However, Kubo has failed score from his eight shots, five of which were on target, and has yet to assist a team-mate or so much as play a successful cross from open play.

Diego Simeone has been taking his Atletico Madrid tenure "game by game" for nine years and now, 500 games in, is keen to ensure standards do not slip in 2021.

Atletico head coach Simeone oversaw a 1-0 LaLiga win over Getafe on Wednesday to mark his 500th match in charge of the club in all competitions, trailing only Luis Aragones (611).

Luis Suarez's eighth league goal for Atletico secured maximum points midweek that ensured Simeone's high-flying side would head into the new year top of the table.

But reflecting on his approach when returning to Atleti as coach in December 2011, Simeone explained he has rarely looked beyond the next game – for now Deportivo Alaves on Sunday.

"Since I arrived when I got together with Miguel [Angel Gil Marin, CEO] and Enrique [Cerezo, president], I told them let's go game by game," the 50-year-old said after the Getafe game.

"That is my feeling, playing each game as if it were the last until situations lead me to leave Atletico or not."

As well as leading LaLiga at the end of December, Atleti have completed a calendar year without losing at home in the league for the first time since 1998, winning 14 and drawing the other four of their 18 matches.

But Simeone is not interested in their 2020 achievements, preferring to focus on the campaign as a whole.

"We cannot consider the years as a year but as a season," he explained. "Last season we achieved our goal of reaching the Champions League and we managed to settle in that place that allows us to continue growing.

"The Copa del Rey went very badly, where we were eliminated in the first round. In the Champions League, we were excited after the game against Liverpool, but then we fell in the quarter-finals.

"So we started over. We started well, as we have been playing since the pandemic ended, with the team very motivated. And now we have to continue."

Asked what his wish might be for the coming 12 months, though, Simeone highlighted the public health situation rather than his team's title tilt.

"It would be too selfish if, in the moment we are living, we think about football," Simeone said amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"Hopefully we can hug a friend again, be able to celebrate a birthday again, get back to normal. Health; above all, I ask for health."

Atleti's latest win continued a remarkable record against Getafe under Simeone, playing 18 matches without conceding (16 wins, two goalless draws).

But Simeone guarded against complacency, adding: "These are situations.

"Atletico spent 14 years without beating Real Madrid. It has been quite a few games since we beat Barcelona. But that was until one day. We face each game with the same passion."

Diego Simeone became just the second Atletico Madrid coach to reach 500 games in charge as his side beat Getafe 1-0 on Wednesday.

Simeone trails only Luis Aragones (611 matches) in all competitions, with the same two men atop the club's LaLiga list - Simeone on 340, Aragones on 407.

The victory over Getafe courtesy of a Luis Suarez goal, consolidating top spot, was the incumbent coach's 301st.

A second LaLiga title triumph under Simeone is in Atleti's sights this season, yet 'El Cholo' is already their most successful coach.

His seven major honours are just clear of Aragones' six, and Simeone has the best LaLiga win ratio - 60.2 per cent - of all Rojiblanco bosses to manage at least 32 matches

The outstanding statistics do not stop there, though.
 

DEFENSIVELY DOMINANT

Few would argue Simeone's sides are the most exciting to watch, but they are certainly tough to beat.

Simeone has overseen 183 LaLiga clean sheets as Atleti coach, the most of any Rojiblanco boss in the history of the competition.

And since the start of the 2012-13 season, his first full campaign in charge, Atleti lead the way in Europe's top five leagues with 173 clean sheets in 318 matches. Paris Saint-Germain are next on that list with 158 shutouts in 310 Ligue 1 games.

It should come as no surprise then that Atleti have also conceded the fewest goals on the continent over the same period.

Their defence has been breached just 214 times - 0.67 per game - with Juventus second having shipped 228 in Serie A.

EL CHOLO'S FAVOURITE FOES

Simeone shows no signs of stopping, which will continue to concern poor Getafe.

Wednesday's match was Simeone's 18th meeting with Getafe and, quite remarkably, his team are yet to concede a single goal against them, recording 16 wins alongside two goalless draws.

That is Simeone's best record against any one side, while Atleti also enjoyed their biggest win of his tenure versus Getafe, a 7-0 triumph in November 2013.

Real Madrid are the opponents Simeone has faced most often, on 33 occasions, while Barcelona have beaten the 50-year-old 15 times, representing another high.

EUROPA LEAGUE EUPHORIA

Champions League glory has evaded Simeone despite reaching two finals, losing to rivals Madrid in 2014 and 2016.

But the Atleti coach has delivered international success in the Europa League. The Spanish side won that competition in 2012 and 2018, adding UEFA Super Cup titles on each occasion, with Simeone claiming more trophies in Europe than in domestic action.

Only Unai Emery - in 2014, 2015 and 2016 - has won the Europa League more often.

And the Europa League is the competition in which Simeone has enjoyed his best winning record, coming out on top in 21 of their 26 matches (80.8 per cent).

Atletico Madrid consolidated top spot in LaLiga with a 1-0 home win over Getafe on Wednesday in head coach Diego Simeone's 500th game in charge in all competitions.

Simeone's milestone match came against his favourite opponents, having now won 16 out of 18 matches against neighbours Getafe without conceding - the other two being goalless draws.

Luis Suarez put Atleti in front with his eighth goal in his first 11 league games for the club, equalling Radamel Falcao's record for the most prolific Rojiblancos start this century.

Atleti could not add to their tally but safely held on to move three points clear of Real Madrid, who have played a game more and are in action against Elche later on Wednesday.

The visitors were given a let off after 14 minutes as Thomas Lemar fired an angled shot against the frame of the goal as he attempted to catch out Ruben Yanez.

But Getafe, who ended an 11-match wait for an away league win last time out on their travels, could not hold out for much longer as Suarez glanced in Yannick Carrasco's delivery.

Suarez guided over from 15 yards soon after but a bigger chance went begging for Angel Rodriguez at the other end, the forward heading straight at Jan Oblak from close range.

Oblak was called into action again just before the hour mark to keep out Jaime Mata's header with a routine stop, while Carrasco was thwarted by Yanez down low in a second half of minimal chances.

Getafe are poised to move for Barcelona midfielder Carles Alena and Real Madrid winger Takefusa Kubo when LaLiga's January transfer window opens.

Alena, 22, has been unable to establish himself as a regular starter under Ronald Koeman and has made just four appearances for the Blaugrana this season.

Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane allowed 19-year-old Kubo to join Villarreal on a season-long loan, during which he has made 19 appearances, but it is expected that deal will be cut short.

Getafe president Angel Torres revealed the club's interest in the pair as head coach Jose Bordalas seeks to strengthen his squad next month.

"Kubo wants to come," Torres told Onda Cero program El Transistor. "Yes, the other reinforcement may be Alena. But we are not going to go crazy."

Getafe currently occupy 13th place in LaLiga ahead of their fixture with leaders Atletico Madrid on Wednesday.

Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman complained about a "lack of respect" during his team's surprise LaLiga defeat to Getafe, singling out Allan Nyom.

Koeman suffered his first loss as Barca boss on Saturday – Getafe claiming a 1-0 victory thanks to Jaime Mata's 56th-minute penalty.

It was Getafe's first league win over Spanish giants Barca since November 2011, a run of 16 games.

Koeman, who replaced Quique Setien at the start of the season, was less than impressed with the behaviour of Getafe full-ball Nyom.

"I told him [Getafe coach Jose Bordalas] that his number 12 [Nyom] had shown me a lack of respect, he had said two or three very ugly things to me which I won't repeat. He insulted me," Koeman said post-game.

"I told Bordalas that he needs to speak to his player, because we cannot tolerate that type of behaviour in modern football."

On Koeman's comments, Bordalas added: "I'm here to talk about football, not about controversy. I haven't spoken to the boy, I will tomorrow, but I doubt that Nyom would do that, I know him well.

"He's very competitive, but he's a very respectful person. I don't allow bad behaviour among my players but I doubt that Nyom insulted him."

Lionel Messi struck the post and Getafe captain Djene Dakonam was spared from scoring an own goal by the crossbar, however – after starting his reign with back-to-back wins – Koeman has now seen his side pick up a solitary point from their next two outings.

Barca – who have their lowest tally of goals after four LaLiga fixtures since 2015-16 with eight – had 73 per cent possession but managed just one on-target attempt as Getafe conceded 20 fouls in a physical contest.

After Mata converted a spot-kick following a foul by Frenkie de Jong on Dakonam, Koeman said: "I don't know if it was a penalty, it looked like they were looking for it and we fell into the trap. I don't know if we had VAR or not today.

"I don't like to talk about referees, but if you watch the match and see how many fouls they made and how many cards were given out, then you can make your own mind up.

"We knew this was a very difficult ground to come to but we tried to create passages of play and move the ball around quickly and they kept disrupting that with fouls."

Ronald Koeman suffered the first defeat of his reign as Barcelona failed to capitalise on a shock loss for Real Madrid, slipping to a 1-0 defeat at Getafe. 

With El Clasico looming on the horizon, reigning champions Madrid were stunned by newly promoted Cadiz as LaLiga resumed on Saturday following the international break.

However, Barca missed the chance to move level on points with their rivals ahead of next Saturday's showdown at Camp Nou. 

Jaime Mata's 56th-minute penalty was enough for Getafe to secure a first league win over their illustrious opponents since a similar 1-0 result back in November 2011, a run of 16 games. 

Lionel Messi struck a post and Getafe captain Djene Dakonam was spared from scoring an own goal by the crossbar, but - after starting his reign with back-to-back wins - Koeman has now seen his side pick up a solitary point from their next two outings, laying bare the size of the task on his hands. 

Ousmane Dembele made his first start of 2020 and there was also an opportunity handed to teenager Pedri from the outset, suggesting the new boss will show faith in youth during the rebuilding job required. 

Still, it is a big-money signing who will once again come under the spotlight, Antoine Griezmann squandering his team's best chance to leave him still without a goal at club level in the early stages of the 2020-21 season. 

The French forward wastefully blasted over when clean through in a first half consistently punctuated by the sound of referee Cesar Soto Grado's whistle, with five players shown yellow cards. 

Getafe had rarely threatened before Frenkie de Jong helped them out, the midfielder clumsily catching Dakonam inside the area as he rushed in attempting to win the ball. 

Mata duly converted from the spot – sending Neto the wrong way – and the dogged hosts held firm to their slender advantage through to the final whistle. 

In an eventful finish to proceedings not in keeping with the rest of the contest, Juan Hernandez blazed over at one end before Getafe were saved by the woodwork in stoppage time, Barca unable to find a late leveller their performance scarcely merited.

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