Madrid – The excitement and euphoria over Luis Suarez didn’t last very long for Atlético Madrid.
Two consecutive scoreless draws quickly dampened the hype surrounding Atletico’s new attack after it had opened the season with an impressive 6-1 victory over Granada.
Atletico and Suarez struggled again on Saturday, being held by Villarreal at home in a Spanish league match which it finished with no shots on target.
“Sometimes it’s hard to explain these situations when you try everything but can’t create opportunities,” said Diego Simeone, who was seeking his 200th Spanish league win as Atletico’s coach. “We have to look at the positives. The results haven’t been what we expected but I like the team’s attitude.”
Suárez thrived in the opener but had already struggled — along with the rest of the team — in the 0-0 draw at promoted Huesca on Wednesday, a game that marked the Uruguay striker’s first start with his new club after being told by Barcelona that he wasn’t wanted anymore.
Villarreal had dangerous chances at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium on Saturday, but it couldn’t capitalize on them and squandered a good opportunity to come away with the victory. Atlético goalkeeper Jan Oblak made a few good saves to keep the clean sheet.
“They played a great match and didn’t leave us any space to play,” Oblak said. “We should have done more but we couldn’t. The draw was not what we wanted.”
Unai Emery’s Villarreal, which entered the season amid high expectations and is sitting third in the standings, was coming off two wins from its first four matches. It lost 4-0 to Barcelona at Camp Nou last weekend.
“This gives us credibility,” Emery said. “It was a lot different from what happened against Barcelona. We feel like we could’ve won it.”
Expectations also rose for Atletico after it signed Suarez and he scored two goals and set up another in about 20 minutes off the bench against Granada, but there was only disappointment after the consecutive 0-0 draws going into the international break.
Suarez, starting in place of Diego Costa and playing alongside Portuguese forward Joao Felix, had few chances in front of goal, just as had happened against Huesca. Suarez was substituted by Costa in the 70th minute on Saturday.
“It was good to start with a win, but if we can’t keep it up, the euphoria diminishes,” Oblak said. “We have to keep working and keep improving so we can continue winning matches.”
Real Madrid visits Levante on Sunday, and Barcelona hosts Sevilla.