Real Madrid’s La Liga hopes fade further after draw vs Atletico Madrid
Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid slipped 10 points behind Barcelona at the top of La Liga as a Madrid derby short on chances finished 0-0 at Atletico’s Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday.football Updated: Nov 19, 2017 09:52 IST
Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid have lost further ground on La Liga leaders Barcelona this weekend after a lifeless 0-0 draw in the first derby to be played at the Wanda Metropolitano.
Barcelona cruised to a 3-0 win over Leganes earlier on Saturday and the subsequent derby stalemate means the Madrid sides are now 10 points behind Ernesto Valverde’s high-flying Catalans.
The two teams, who sit fourth and third respectively, are also three points adrift of second-placed Valencia, who travel to Espanyol in their game in hand on Sunday.
Diego Simeone and Zinedine Zidane’s sides have both fallen short of expectations so far this campaign and failure to win such a high-profile game will increase the strain on the two head coaches.
The best opportunity of the game came in just the third minute when Angel Correa clipped wide from an excellent opening after inadvertently being played in by Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane.
Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo struggled to make any significant inroads against Atletico’s obdurate defence, which means the star forwards have now scored just two goals between them in a combined 16 league appearances this season.
Atletico and Real Madrid know they must register wins against Levante and Malaga respectively next weekend if they are to get their stuttering league seasons back on track and stand any chance of closing the significant gap to Barca.
Atletico started at a blistering pace and should have been ahead inside three minutes courtesy of some kamikaze defending by Zidane’s men.
A poor pass from Marcelo put his defence under pressure and after numerous failed attempts to clear the ball it eventually fell invitingly to Correa, but the Argentina international contrived to steer his shot over the onrushing Kiko Casilla and agonisingly past the left-hand post.
Gabi fired a speculative long-range volley off target midway through the first half before the visitors hit their stride and carved out a number of clear opportunities to take the lead.
After some clever passing on the edge of the Atletico penalty area, Cristiano Ronaldo released Toni Kroos but the Germany midfielder could only scuff his shot into Jan Oblak’s side netting.
This was followed soon after by a dipping Ronaldo free-kick from 35 yards that Oblak turned around the post and a close-range header from Sergio Ramos that flew wide.
Ramos took a boot to the face from Lucas Hernandez in that incident, suffering a suspected broken nose, and was withdrawn at half time in place of Nacho.
The second period failed to bring about a change in fortunes for either side, with both defences standing firm and repelling almost every attack.
Benzema’s disappointing evening came to an end in the 76th minute as Zidane threw on Marco Asensio in a bid to inspire a late winner.
It was the hosts that came closest to breaking the deadlock and securing a famous win, though. Substitute Kevin Gameiro lifted a shot over Casilla, but the backtracking Varane brilliantly headed off the line to deny what would have been a certain winner that, in truth, neither side deserved.
First Published: Nov 19, 2017 09:47 IST