Real Madrid and cross town enemy Atletico Madrid played out a humdrum draw in Saturday’s La Liga clash, as both failed to steal a march on Barcelona.
With little in the way of attacking entertainment, Los Blancos struggled to break down their opponent’s well drilled banks of four.
With Merengue fans screaming for Cristiano Ronaldo midway through the second half, it’s clear that there is still some way to go for Julen Lopetegui’s side.
Here’s four things we learned following the stalemate at Santiago Bernabeu:
1. Atletico Are Still Really Good at Defending
It may sound obvious, but Diego Simeone’s team are properly solid when it comes to seeing out games. Compatriots Diego Godin and Jose Maria Gimenez have built one of the fiercest centre back pairings in world football, with Karim Benzema their latest victim.
The Frenchman was continually caught in no man’s land at the Bernabeu, as he saw his opportunities limited. Beaten both aerially and on the ground, it was another disappointing night for a player who started this La Liga campaign so well.
2. Gareth Bale’s Injury Put a Downer on Proceedings
Substituted for Dani Ceballos at half time, rumours swirled about Gareth Bale’s role in this new look Real Madrid side. However, it was soon confirmed that his removal was due to an injury.
The former Tottenham man had little joy in the first period though, as even switching flanks proved futile. Locked down by Juanfran and Filipe Luis, it was a game in which Bale couldn’t run free like usual. A deep set line limited him to long shots and cross balls, neither of which brought any sort of opening.
3. Julen Lopetegui Doesn’t Know His Strongest XI
We are now seven games into La Liga, and Julen Lopetegui is still tinkering with his match eleven. Los Blancos have continued to experiment with different lineups, but none have quite stuck yet. After a 3-0 loss to Sevilla and a goalless affair in this one, it’s probable there is still more switching to come.
Who is his first choice goalkeeper? Where does Ceballos best fit into the team? Is Marco Asensio or Isco a better option on the right flank? So many questions, yet very few answers. Real’s boss has now been at the helm since June, so should really have a handle on what he wants from this Real side.
4. Thibaut Courtois Will Prove to Be Money Well Spent
While most will disagree with his goalkeeper of the year award, Thibaut Courtois is no doubt an exceptional shot stopper when on form. Now that his soap opera at Chelsea has ended, the Belgian can get back to what he does best, saving his side.
Last night was a prime example, as incredible one-on-one blocks from Antoine Griezmann and Diego Costa kept his team from going behind early on. A commanding figure in net, Real’s newest acquisition will hope to properly condemn Keylor Navas to the bench sooner rather than later.