All in all, Real Madrid can be pleased with their 0-0 draw against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League despite the poor performance from it’s best player, Cristiano Ronaldo, maybe because it was a huge confidence builder for Iker Casillas, especially in the second half.
For most of the first half this was a very one sided affair, in favor of Real Madrid. Jan Oblak was putting in his finest performance of the season with some incredible saves, as Atletico Madrid seemed to be persistent in not sending up more than three or four players at a time, and their tactics of clogging the midfield and narrowing the pitch weren’t working. Real Madrid simply started everything from the wings, getting to comfortable chance after comfortable chance, only to be thwarted by Oblak.
The closer we got to half time, we saw more of Arda Turan finally joining Koke, Mario Mandzukic and Antoine Griezmann in the front line while Juanfran and Guillherme Siqueira, the two full backs, started doing the same. It didn’t exactly turn the match around, but it brought some balance to the pitch and we actually started seeing some football plays from the home team.
The second half was a combination of a wrestling match, mostly involving Mario Mandzukic either receiving or dishing out punishment. That included getting elbowed in the face (unintentionally) by Sergio Ramos, causing a great deal of blood to be flowing, and also punched by Dani Carvjal. The referee seemed quite pleased to make minimal use of the whistle (against Real Madrid) and yellow cards, although he did end up using five of them in the end.
Iker Casillas, who was bored to death in the first half, suddenly had to make some saves, three of them to be exact. Obviously, it doesn’t come close to the kind of traffic Oblak was seeing in the first half, but we tend to remember what we saw last, and Casillas was the busier of the two keepers in the second half, as Sergio Ramos made more and more mistakes while Atletico Madrid finally felt comfortable attacking in numbers.
Ronaldo did get some shots on goal, but getting special attention attached to him all night long caused him to look a bit out of it, which is rare for someone who gets so many touches and makes so many attempts at goal when his midfield is working, which it was for large parts of the contest.
The second leg is another one of those ‘anything can happen’ matches, as Real and Atletico clash for the eighth and final time this season, and last year’s Champions League winners still looking for their first win over their city rivals.