Atletico Madrid’s impressive recent form against rivals Real Madrid continued on Saturday evening, as Diego Simeone’s side stretched their record to just one defeat in nine against Los Blancos in La Liga thanks to a goalless draw in the first ever Derbi Madrileño at the Wanda Metropolitano.
It was a 90 minutes where clear openings were few and far between, with both defences standing strong for the most part and giving answers to any attack that came their way.
On the face of it a point is not a bad result for either side. However, in regard to La Liga title chase, given that Barcelona now hold a 10-point advantage with just 12 games played, this stalemate may well mark the beginning of the end of both sides’ league challenge.
Despite the lack of goals the game enjoyed an electric start which possessed real edge in the early stages, with the hosts’ high press causing Real a number of early problems. None more so than inside the opening three minutes, with Angel Correa spurning a glorious opportunity to put his side ahead.
The returning Raphael Varane, who was making his first start for the visitors since October, received pressured possession deep inside his own half and had the intention of retaining it by returning the ball back to goalkeeper Kiko Casilla.
However, the Frenchman’s back pass only found the feet of Correa, who was left with just the Spanish custodian to beat, but the Argentine striker could not add to his four goals already this season and dragged his attempt wide, truly sparing the blushes of the Los Blancos centre-back.
Wth play condensed mainly in the centre of the park for much of the first half, it took until the half hour mark before the next real chance was fashioned.
Real midfielder Toni Kroos found himself in possession on the edge of the Atleti area before advancing into the box via a neat one-two with Cristiano Ronaldo. The German’s deft touch allowed him the space to bear down on Jan Oblak’s goal. However, the hosts’ defensive pressure proved pivotal as the 27-year-old’s looped effort drifted wide.
Following that, aside from Sergio Ramos receiving a hefty boot to the face whilst trying to head his side into the lead – leaving him with a suspected broken nose – the lack of goalmouth action continued, with the tie heading into the break goalless.
The majority of the second half was played in very much the same fashion to the first 45, with neither side seemingly wanting to make the first punishable mistake of the evening.
That was until the final 10 minutes when substitute Fernando Torres played in Kevin Gameiro, who found himself in space on the right-hand side of the Real area before attempting to lift his attempt over the advancing Casilla.
The Frenchman’s effort look destined to break the deadlock. However, a sensational defensive header from the backtracking Varane, who turned his clearance from his own goal line over the bar, kept things level at the final whistle.
The result helps neither Madrid outfit in their pursuit of league leaders Barcelona, who now hold a 10-point buffer over the Spanish capital pairing following their 3-0 win over Leganes earlier in the day.