Real held to goalless draw at Atletico in compelling derby
A defiant Atletico Madrid held defending European champions Real Madrid to a 0-0 derby draw at the Vicente Calderon in an enthralling Champions League quarter-final encounter, the first goalless result in this fixture for a decade.
Atleti’s solid showing, typified by shot stopper Jan Oblak, kept Los Blancos at bay, despite constant pressure and a dominant performance from Carlo Ancelotti’s men, ensuring the Galacticos have now gone seven Madrid derbies without a victory.
The Spanish capital’s top two clubs came together for the seventh time this term in front of a raucous crowd, who were treated to an exciting contest, despite a low key scoreline. Diego Simeone’s home side ultimately frustrated European Cup holders Los Blancos. leaving this quarter-final tie in the balance.
Within only a few minutes of kick-off and, after such an explosive start to proceedings, Gareth Bale found himself through on goal but was denied brilliantly by a strong save from Slovenia stopper Oblak.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s relentless determination to get on the end of a thumping defensive clearance from Raphael Varane paid off after quarter of an hour, as the Portugal star controlled the lofted ball and laid off for Karim Benezema, but he was unable to put the chance away.
The hosts continued to hold a deep defensive unit towards the end of the first period, with Diego Simeone’s men adapting a strong structured line out, aiming to hit their city rivals with a dashing counter-attack.
Ancelotti’s Galacticos dominated possession and tested in-form Oblak constantly, with Bale’s sweet long-range strike forcing Atletico’s keeper to get down rapidly, before James Rodriquez channelled his World Cup form to curl an immense effort towards the far post, only to be stopped again.
Slovenia stopper Oblak kept Real out again moments later, with a swift save to deny Rodriguez for a second time, after a pulsating burst of pace from French defender Varane down the right flank led to the chance.
Atletico’s first real chance came directly from the restart, after a great turn from Juanfran Torres on the right wing allowed him to breeze past Rodriguez and cross into the danger area, where Arda Turan managed only to head inches wide.
Towering target man Mario Mandzukic was involved in a heated battle with Los Blancos defender Sergio Ramos throughout, and he was eventually momentarily taken out by his Spanish opposition, after a wayward arm left the Croatia striker bloodied, much to his dismay.
As the momentum grew in a heated derby encounter, so too did the pressure on the referee, as Mandzukic came close to blows with Madrid full back Dani Carvaval, with the Spaniard lucky not be sent off following an attempted right hook.
France international forward Benzema was gifted with a glorious chance to snatch the opener from close range near the end, after an amazing run from Marcelo, but the striker was unaware of his threatening positioning, as another chance went begging.
In a bold move from Atleti’s Argentine boss Simeone, he replaced lively French forward Antoine Griezmann with Raul Garcia and Koke with former Chelsea attacker Fernando Torres, rather than Mandzukic, who had previously been booked and looked destined to see red for his ongoing tussles with the Madrid backline.
However, the Croatian warrior carried on to the end but was unable to help his side find an opening, as the ferociously fought derby ended goalless for the first time since May 2005.