Real Madrid’s hopes of winning La Liga for the first time since 2012 were today dealt a major blow as cross city rivals Atletico Madrid left the Bernabeau with all three points. Today’s result has huge implications for the La Liga title race. Atletico are 5 points behind Barcelona who play Sevilla tomorrow but Real are now 9 points behind Barcelona and a victory tomorrow would see the Catalans move 12 points clear of their fierce rivals while maintaining a 8 point lead over Atletico.
The match began in a frantic manner but never really created any goal scoring opportunities. Cristiano Ronaldo and Augusto Fernandez’s efforts were both wide of the mark. The first shot on target came from a Ronaldo free kick on 32 minutes. He saw this saved well by Jan Oblak in Atletico’s goal. Keylor Navas was similarly impressive for Real before the break, first leaping to tip Griezmann’s effort over and then denying a strike from Koke at his near post. Thanks to the two goalkeepers heroics the sides were level at halftime.
Early into the second half Ronaldo wasted a fantastic chance to break the deadlock. He shot wide of the left upright when one on one with Oblak. Just five minutes later Antoine Griezmann gave the visitors the lead. An Atletico counter attack saw Griezmann utilize the overlapping run of Felipe Luis who cut the ball back to the Frenchman who’s low driven shot beat Keylor Navas. Atletico very nearly doubled their lead when Saul Niguez was played in one on one with Navas but the Costa Rican keeper produced a sprawling save to deny the young Spaniard.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s frustrating performance continued as he missed yet another opportunity when his header was caught easily by Oblak. Ronaldo and Danilo had chances in the final 10 minutes but Atletico’s defence remained strong as they kept yet another clean sheet.
Certain sections of the Bernabeau made their dissatisfaction clear as chants of ‘Florentino, resign’ rang out, in reference to the club’s president Florentino Perez. Others voiced their support for the president but this off field drama only adds to a disappointing day for Real fans. Cristiano Ronaldo appeared to blame his teammates in an after match interview. The Portuguese winger stated “It annoys me that they say Cristiano has dropped his level,and that is why Madrid have dropped their level. If they were all at my level we would be first.”
Madrid is once again red and white although Atletico face an uphill battle if they are to win their second La Liga title in three years as FC Barcelona are 5 points clear with a game in hand.