Real Madrid secured a 1-1 draw against crosstown rivals Atletico Madrid in La Liga on Saturday, February 25.
Los Blancos entered this Madrid derby on the back of five wins in as many games across competitions. They secured a resounding 5-2 win over Liverpool at Anfield in the UEFA Champions League in their last outing, having been 2-0 down. The result boosted belief and energy in the camp as Carlo Ancelotti named a dynamic lineup.
Atleti, on the other hand, have won three, drawn one, and lost one of their last five games across competitions. It is interesting to note that they scored exactly one goal in all of those five games irrespective of the result. While it highlights that they may have a scoring issue, it also shows how Diego Simeone's men like to fight for results.
Both Real Madrid and Atletico made good starts to the game as they looked to grab an early advantage in this high-stakes contest. The hosts were slightly ahead in terms of possession in the first half, keeping the ball for 62% of the time. Despite this, they only managed two shots on target from eight total attempts - both efforts being underwhelming shots that failed to test Jan Oblak.
Atletico Madrid hit the target just once in two attempts, statistically doing better than their cross-town rivals with just 38% possession. However, two of their players and one of the hosts' players were booked in the first half with tackles flying in. Despite signs of an intense game, the teams went into halftime deadlocked at 0-0.
Both managers turned to their respective benches as the second half commenced as they looked to take the initiative in this crunch clash. Ancelotti made a triple-change to alter his entire midfield, while Simeone made one change at a time. However, Atleti were the first team to be dealt a blow as they were down to 10 men after 64 minutes.
Angel Correa was sent off for apparent violent conduct after appearing to have elbowed Antonio Rudiger. Despite the decision being harsh, the visitors found themselves trailing. However, they took a surprise lead in the 78th minute as Antoine Griezmann assisted Jose Maria Gimenez with a perfect free kick.
Real Madrid, however, showed their class as they pulled out yet another clutch moment. Luka Modric provided an assist for Alvaro Rodriguez to score from an accurate corner, leveling the scores up all over again. The hosts held on to secure a point. On that note, let's take a look at the five talking points from the contest.
#5. Atletico Madrid struggled going forward
Yannick Carrasco and Antoine Griezmann started as the forward pairing for Atleti in this crunch fixture. Despite getting on the ball on several occasions throughout the first half, they were unable to attempt a single shot between them. Real Madrid did well to maintain a narrow and high line, preventing Atletico from exploiting the spaces behind the defense.
With a 10-point gap between the two sides prior to kickoff, it has been no surprise Atleti have lost ground on their neighbors over the last couple of years both on and off the pitch. Much of it could be down to goals drying up for Simeone's men.
#4. Real Madrid failed to threaten Jan Oblak's goal
Despite attempting eight shots in the first half, Real Madrid were unable to test Oblak in goal adequately. Just two of those attempts were on target as the custodian made straightforward saves to deny the hosts. Vinicius, Benzema, and Asensio attempted most of those but were unable to make a positive impact.
Having dominated possession by quite a bit, one would expect Ancelotti's men to have more to show for it considering their recent record.
#3. Angel Correa's red card was very harsh
Just after the hour mark as Atletico Madrid looked to build some momentum with Angel Correa and Thomas Lemar on the pitch, there was an incident that soured the game. Correa and Antonio Rudiger were jostling for the ball as a throw-in was about to be taken. Suddenly, the German defender hit the deck and the referee stopped the play.
Correa was shown a straight red card without any hesitation from the official, or without a need to consult his assistants. Moreover, the decision wasn't even reviewed by VAR, making the send-off seem very harsh for what was a bookable offense at best.
#2. Irrespective of time, Real Madrid can be down, but never out
With just 12 minutes of regular time to play, Real Madrid found themselves chasing the game after Gimenez's header gave Atleti a truckload of hope. Griezmann delivered the perfect ball from a free kick, picking out the Uruguayan to apply the finishing touches. However, their joy was cut short by another Uruguayan but in a white shirt.
Eighteen-year-old substitute Alvaro Rodriguez scored just a few minutes after coming on as he equalized to make it 1-1 after 85 minutes. Luka Modric provided an assist from a corner for the goal.
Having completed a comeback just a few days back against one of the top sides in Europe, Los Blancos showed why they can be so hard to defeat.
#1. Real Madrid lose more ground on Barcelona
Prior to kickoff, Real Madrid knew a win would take them to within five points of runaway leaders Barca. However, they were unable to secure anything more than a point as they are now seven points behind Barcelona, having played one extra game.
This could have major implications in the title race as Barca have been knocked out of Europe. This gives them more time between crucial league games in March, April, and May.