Villarreal 0-0 Barcelona: Diego Lopez inspired for Yellow Submarine as champions fall seven points behind Real Madrid in La Liga title race

Pep Guardiola sees his side go further adrift of league leaders as the Catalan giants are frustrated at El Madrigal

Barcelona are now seven points adrift of La Liga Leaders Real Madrid after a 0-0 stalemate against Villarreal at El Madrigal on Saturday evening.

Jose Molina's side were impeccably organised throughout the match, and frustrated Barcelona through their intense pressing of the ball and two banks of four positioned in front of the box, which proved too tough to break down for Pep Guardiola's outfit.

The Catalan side should have took the lead in the 17th minute when Lionel Messi latched on to an excellent pass over the top of the Villarreal defence from Dani Alves and quickly turned before delicately lobbing the ball over the on-rushing Diego Lopez, but unfortunately for the Argentine, the ball bounced a whisker by the right-hand post.

The hosts had more possession than most sides earn against Barcelona, and created a number of good chances in the first half to take the lead, the best of which came through a Marcos Senna strike in the 35th minute.

The Villarreal captain found space just outside the box to drive a wicked shot at the near post of Victor Valdes only for the Barca goalkeeper turn the ball round the post with an outstanding save. From the resulting corner kick, Jose Molina's side thought they had took the lead after Gonzalo Rodriguez nodded home from six yards, only for the referee to correctly rule as offside.

Barcelona were very fortunate not to concede a penalty two minutes after half time after Borja Valero nicked the ball past Sergio Busquets only to have his leg clipped inside the area. The official waved play on, much to the anger of the El Madrigal crowd.

The second half went on with both sides largely cancelling each other out, but Barcelona came extremely close to edging ahead in the 78th minute, but for a world class save from Diego Lopez. Barca substitute Tello showed some electric pace to get to the byline and reverse a pass to the edge of the box for Cesc Fabregas. The former Arsenal man set himself before smashing a deflected shot at goal that the Villarreal goalkeeper somehow tipped over the bar to keep his side in the match.

Diego Lopez was the saviour for his side again in the 87th minute, denying Lionel Messi after the Argentine burst into the box and shot at goal, only to be denied by the feet of the Villarreal goalkeeper.

Barcelona remain in second place in La Liga on 45 points, and the hard earned point by Villarreal sees them 17th place on 20 points.