2019-20 La Liga: 5 talking points from the 204th Madrid derby
League leaders Real Madrid were held to a goalless draw at Atlético Madrid in the 204th Madrid derby, to stay top in Spain after seven match days.
It was the 39th stalemate in 165 clashes between the Madrid pair in the La Liga. It was only the fourth goalless draw, second in three years, at the home of Atlético, in 83 league meetings between Atlético and Real.
Real are now the only unbeaten team in the Spanish top-flight after the other unbeaten team after six matchdays, Athletic Bilbao, fell to a solitary goal defeat to Valencia at home.
In a cagey, tactical affair, opportunities for either side were at a premium as Real were frustrated by a determined Atlético rearguard but were themselves impressive at the other end of the pitch, as the 33-time La Liga champions recorded their third-successive clean sheet of the season.
Here are the five talking points from the 204th Madrid derby played out at the Wanda Metropolitano:
# 1: Real's new found defensive solidity
Real captain, Sergio Ramos and Frenchman Raphael Varane, kept their second consecutive clean-sheet of the season in as many games (Varane did not start in the game against Osasuna but played against Sevilla) as Madrid kept their third-successive clean sheet in the league.
It was another disciplined performance from the Madrid rearguard as they kept out a Liga opposition for a third game running as the league leaders won 1-0 at Sevilla, beat Osasuna 2-0 at home and played out a goalless draw against Atlético on matchday-7, to remain top of the pile in Spain.
Playing his 40th Madrid derby in all competitions, Ramos remarked after the game:
"It was an extremely physical game. We knew the Wanda is one of the toughest places to come all season and our aim of taking all three points wasn't to be. We've kept a clean sheet and created chances. Atléti are a very solid team, we had Benzema's effort, but the point is a bit underwhelming. We're still unbeaten though and have to keep it up."
# 4: Thibaut Courtois keeps another clean sheet
Building on his impressive display in the hard-fought 1-0 win on matchday-5 at Sevilla, Thibaut Courtois returned to the Madrid starting line-up at the Metropolitano and thwarted his old club to register his second clean sheet of the season in as many Liga games.
Following a string of criticisms, both warranted and unwarranted, with his early performances for the club, Courtois is finally beginning to display the form which enticed Real to lure the services of the Belgian custodian from Premier League side Chelsea.
# 3: Karim Benzema is revelling in his role as the go-to man in attack
Karim Benzema was one of three players with five goals apiece to top the scoring charts in Spain after six matchdays.
The Frenchman may have failed to score in a second consecutive Liga game but put in an energetic display at the Metropolitano, carving out Real's best scoring opportunity against Atlético with a goal-bound header in the second half which was kept out by the Rojiblanco keeper Jan Oblak.
Benzema missed out on joining six-goal Gerard Moreno atop the Liga scoring charts, but the Frenchman's form as the fulcrum of the Madrid attack augurs well for the club in the games to come.
# 2: Gareth Bale may not be leaving any time soon
The subject of intense transfer speculation, exacerbated by coach Zinedine Zidane's public comments about the Welshman not 'part of his plans at the Bernabéu', Gareth Bale turned in a performance of attacking fervour at the Metropolitano to keep the naysayers at bay.
Bale oozed menace with his strong and powerful runs with the ball at his feet and the Welshman carved out one of Real's few clear cut scoring chances against Atlético but blazed over from close range.
# 1: Kroos is in his game
The rudder of the Madrid midfield at the Metropolitano, the German playmaker was the first to threaten the Atlético goal by letting out a speculative shot from distance to warm the gloves of the Rojiblanco custodian.
Kroos came close to opening the scoring with another goal-bound effort, displaying fine technique to catch the ball on the bounce before forcing Oblak into a low save down to his left.