Real Madrid set the early tempo: The Los Blancos, after their dramatic yet one-sided win at Lisbon in last year’s Champions League final were under the cosh in this contest. This season, Atletico are unbeaten in five straight games and the illustrious side from the Spanish capital, despite their 10 Champions League crowns have struggled to buy a win against a side they used to mock no long ago. Keeping the ball and passing with vision, Luca Modric was instrumental in the early phase and Atletico were in the contest because of the Slovakian goalkeeper Oblak in superb form. He made a string of good saves.
Sergio Ramos’s elbows at it again: The Real Madrid skipper could have nearly been sent off after pulling out his elbow yet again. This time, Mario Mandzukic was the target and the Croatian striker had blood gushing out after the tussle. Mandzukic was furious and kept protesting against the officials on the touchline as he was receiving treatment from the medical team.
Real Madrid’s forwards go missing: For all the constructive play that Real’s defenders and midfielders were bringing to the game, the likes of Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale in particular, drew a blank. There was no cohesion in the final third and Carlo Ancelotti’s side often resorted to long-range shooting. Ronaldo got a decent chance in the final stages of the game but hardly made anything worthwhile of it.
Atletico’s terrific 25 minute spell: After soaking up all the pressure, an incensed and inspired Ateltico fought back remarkably in the last half-an-hour of the game. The pressing was aggressive and the likes of Koke and Gabi in midfield and Juanfran on the wings were pegging Real back into their own half. Real had to thank their defence for keeping their shape and not making mistakes with the likes of Mandzukic, Antonie Greizmann and Fernando Torres late in the game bombarded Iker Casillas’s goal.
Substitutions: Real briefly threatened with the mercurial Isco coming on from the bench and Torres’s cameo was also impactful. Tough tackling Raul Garcia was in Real’s face since he came on but neither could deliver the telling blow.
This was a game that neither side deserved to lose and it will be Real Madrid, who will be mighty relieved that they did not leave Vicente Calderon empty handed for once. 0-0 is a tricky result and Atletico have the firepower to threaten Real in the return fixture. Chelsea got a similar result at this stage in last year’s edition but ended up triumphant at Stamford Bridge. They still have a measure over their glamorous rivals though, unbeaten in six straight games.