This thrilling La Liga season took yet another twist on Saturday as Real Madrid were held to a draw by rivals Atletico in a result that blows the title race wide open, yet again…
Barcelona the real winners after Bernabeu draw
This season’s rollercoaster title race has taken another dramatic twist as Atletico Madrid grabbed a largely undeserved point at the Bernabeu. In truth Zinedine Zidane’s side dominated almost the entire game, scoring the opener after 52 minutes and restricting the visitors to very few chances. However, all their good work was undone late on as Antoine Griezmann rescued a point which will have been celebrated raucously in Barcelona. Luis Enrique’s side face a tricky trip to Malaga later but should they win they will move level on points with Madrid. Los Blancos will still have a game in hand, but with the Clasico coming up later this month, Barca will begin to believe that they can still retain their title.
But even Atleti can stop Madrid scoring
For 50 minutes Real Madrid’s run of scoring in 41 consecutive Liga games (52 in all competitions) looked in serious jeopardy by an outstanding defensive performance by Atletico. This is a side, after all, that before the game had conceded just 23 goals in 30 Liga games. Jan Oblak had saved well from Karim Benzema while Cristiano Ronaldo was left in disbelief after Stefan Savic somehow managed to get back on the line and keep his effort out. However, Madrid kept going and finally got their reward on 52 minutes, Pepe heading home Toni Kroos’ free kick to extend their incredible run to 42 games.
Madrid missed their Kroos control
Speaking of Kroos, he picked up his 11th assist of the season against Atletico, and no player has more in La Liga this season. They are coming from every part of the pitch too: five from corners, three from open play and three from set-pieces. The Germany international’s delivery was perfect for Pepe to head home as he proved once again how crucial he is to Zidane’s men. Kroos now has more assists than Neymar and as many as Luis Suarez. He departed on 75 minutes and Madrid seemed to lose control of the game after his departure as the visitors came back to grab a point.
Griezmann shows again why he’s so in-demand
Antoine Griezmann’s advisor claimed on Friday that he’d received approaches from Manchester United, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Barca and the France international showed exactly why he is so in-demand after rescuing a point with a late goal. The France international had earlier almost scored one of the goals of the season with a flying scissor kick that Keylor Navas managed to parry clear. However, the Madrid keeper could do nothing with his late effort, the striker firing home clinically with a simply brilliant finish.
Zidane has plenty to think about before Bayern
Zinedine Zidane admitted in his pre-match press conference that he was unsure if he would carry on as coach next season despite a superb record since taking over. In 51 Liga games for Madrid he has won 39, drawn eight and lost just three. However, Saturday’s draw may well feel like a defeat for the Frenchman who saw his side drop points late on despite bossing the match. After resting key players in midweek against Leganes, Zidane picked his strongest team leaving Alvaro Morata, Isco and James Rodriguez on the bench while the midweek star of the show, Marco Asensio, was left out of the squad altogether. Gareth Bale had a quiet game while neither Karim Benzema nor Cristiano Ronaldo could find a goal and the man who did score, Pepe, was forced off with injury. The defender will now be a big doubt for the midweek trip to Allianz Arena while Zidane has plenty to ponder as he prepares to take on Carlo Ancelotti.
Real Madrid: Navas 7; Ramos 5, Pepe 8 (Nacho), Marcelo 6, Carvajal 7; Casemiro 7, Kroos 8 (Isco 6), Modric 7; Benzema 6, Ronaldo 6, Bale 5 (Vazquez 6).
Subs: Casilla, James, Morata, Kovacic.
Atletico Madrid: Oblak 8; Godín 7, Savic 8, Filipe Luís 7, Juanfran 6; Saul 6 (Correa 8), Gabi 6, Carrasco 6 (Giménez 6), Koke 7 Griezmann 8, Torres 4 (Partey 6).
Subs: Cerci, Moreira, Hernández, Núñez.
Referee: Ricardo De Burgos Bengoetxea
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