Real Madrid failed to capitalise on Barcelona’s shocking 1-1 draw with Athletic Bilbao on Saturday as they were held to a goalless derby draw by Atletico Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu in La Liga.
A frustrating day for the forwards but still a gripping contest right until the last kick - here are three major talking points from Real's draw with Atletico:
3. Bale's Recurring Issues
In Cristiano Ronaldo's absence, Gareth Bale was meant to emerge as the team's undisputed talisman. The Welshman started off exquisitely, easing Real off to consecutive victories. On Saturday, too, he looked full of intent and desire, but once again fell prey to his meanest adversary.
The player was subbed off at half-time with an apparent thigh injury, the same niggling problems that have kept him from fulfilling his potential. The club are still assessing the extent of his injury and we hope it's not a nasty one.
2. Tale of Two Keepers
With a plethora of attacking talents on the pitch, probably not many of us would have predicted the keepers to have the most telling impact. Both Atletico and Real Madrid struggled to carve out chances throughout the tie, and whenever they did, two of the finest keepers in the world stopped them in their tracks.
Thibaut Courtois made two two brilliant saves to deny Atletico strikers Antoine Griezmann and Diego Costa in the first half, while Jan Oblak helped Atletico survive a flurry of Real Madrid attacks in the dying minutes.
1. Asensio and Ceballos - Polar Opposites
Marco Asensio is one of the finest young talents in world football, no two ways about it. On his day, he can beat players for fun and score absolute screamers, but on others, he could end up looking like a liability, incapable of making the chances count. Last night, he squandered a number of decent opportunities, as he kept failing to pick out the best possible option.
Dani Ceballos, on the other hand, exhibited everything a young, promising player should. He was desperate to make an impact and wasn't afraid to take the game to Atletico. After such a performance, not allowing Ceballos to feature more prominently would be criminal of Real Madrid boss Julen Lopetegui.