Zinedine Zidane is still on top of the league a week and a half after that seismic slip-up in Paris when his team were beaten 3-0 by PSG and he looked more out than in his job. He couldn’t get the better of Diego Simone’s Atletico Madrid on Saturday night but a point was enough to leave his side as leaders.
For a game that is so often a pitched battle, peace broke out in the end with Kieran Trippier and Gareth Bale shaking on a fair result. They were among the better players on their respective sides. For Eden Hazard, the derby had come too soon and he cut a forlorn figure when he was taken off in the second period. It was Trippier against Hazard early on and the former Tottenham full-back came out on top.
His drilled cross from the right just before the break would have been turned in by Diego Costa had Thibaut Courtois not gone down to push the ball out of danger. Trippier and Hazard had clashed earlier with the Real Madrid forward backing into the Atletico Madrid defender, studs first.
It was accidental but the impact just above the knee had several of Trippier’s team-mates indicated to the bench that he needed to be replaced. He got back to his feet and the next time he clashed with Hazard it was to pull him back to stop him getting away.
He was penalized but not booked which drew a crowd of white-shirted players around the referee. Hazard was struggling to get the better of Trippier and there was one huge ironic roar when he failed to control one pass.
On the other wing Bale was tormenting Renan Lodi. He crossed for Benzema to go close. He then almost converted a Nacho cross. Bale also look quicker than the bullet-fast Lodi and when he beat him for speed just before the break and crossed for Benzema the ball ran out to Toni Kroos who made perfect contact with a shot that Jan Oblak pushed out for a corner.
Just as Hazard had been quiet so the 100 million-plus player on the other side was struggling for opportunities. Joao Felix had one shot just wide of Courtois’ far post and was taken off in the second period.
There was a touchline rumble on the half-time whistle with Simone on the pitch trying to get to referee Luis Gonzalez Gonzalez. The Atletico bench told Spanish radio in the break that Ramos had sworn at the linesman and should have been booked.