There are probably no better goalkeepers in the world at the moment and Thibaut Courtois and Jan Oblak, at least, will be happy with a Madrid derby that ended goal-less.
Courtois kept out his former team Atletico Madrid saving from both Diego Costa and Antoine Griezmann in the first half. And Oblak – the man who replaced him at Atletico Madrid – matched his opposite number with an outstanding performance topped by one stop from Marco Asensio in the second period.
First blood in the first half, was literally drawn by Sergio Ramos who clashed with Saul when both players contested a corner. He needed treatment but not stitches and was soon back on the pitch.
REAL: Courtois, Carvajal, Ramos, Varane, Nacho, Kroos, Casemiro, Modric (Vazquez 82), Bale (Ceballos 46), Benzema (Junior 88), Asensio
Subs not used: Navas, Diaz, Llorente, Reguilon
Booked: Carvajal, Ramos, Nacho
ATLETICO: Oblak, Juanfran, Gimenez, Godin, Luis, Koke, Niguez, Rodri (Kalinic 85), Lemar (Correa 60), Griezmann, Costa (Thomas 69)
Subs not used: Adan, Arias, Hernandez, Vitolo
Booked: Juanfran, Lemar, Koke, Correa
Atletico had the first clear chance on 18 minutes when Koke sent Griezmann through. He only had Courtois to beat but Courtois made sure there was a lot of him to beat, standing tall and blocking the goal-bound shot with his head.
Saul then scythed down Gareth Bale as he tried to get away wide left and the Atletico midfielder was lucky not to be booked.
Bale almost took revenge by scoring the first of the game. Toni Kroos swung a deep free-kick to the back post but the Welshman’s left-foot volley went wide.
The temperature was turned up a notch when Dani Carvajal was booked for taking the ball off of Koke and taking a chunk of Koke too. Casemiro then appeared to handle in the area but the referee waved away the claims for a spot kick. Meanwhile Ramos’ wound was reopening and he was ordered off to clean up his cut head.
Atletico broke quickly with Griezmann’s pass sending Costa clear and again it was Courtois who stood tall and batted the shot away at his near post for a corner.
Costa had gone past Varane in blur but the big Belgian had saved the shot and so Costa’s wait for a league goal – he has not scored since February continued.
Bale then tested Oblak at the other end with a left-footed shot from distance coming in off the right wing. The visiting keeper then kicked the ball straight to Asensio and got lucky when it hit the forward and bounced back into the keeper’s arms. He deserved his stroke of good fortune.
It was 0-0 at the break had been anything but a dull much-to-do-about-nothing-nothing. Both sides had good reason to believe they could win it in the second period but Madrid would have to do it without Bale who was withdrawn at half-time with an injury in his right groin.