Cristiano Ronaldo reaches double figures and other takeaways as Real Madrid and Atletico share points

Andy West 8/04/2018
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Real Madrid and local rivals Atletico played out a 1-1 draw on Sunday afternoon, allowing the visitors to stretch their unbeaten league run at the Bernabeu to five games.

The point also keeps Diego Simeone’s men in control of second place, four points clear of their local rivals with just seven games remaining, but perhaps the team happiest of all with the outcome is Barcelona, whose title march is looking more comfortable than ever.

Here we check out the main talking points to arise from the latest Madrid derby.

Double-figures for unstoppable Ronaldo

Before the game there was speculation that Cristiano Ronaldo would be rested from the starting XI, but manager Zinedine Zidane resisted that temptation and will have been relieved he did so, with Ronaldo posing a regular goal threat in a game which saw few attacking players shine.

It was pretty much inevitable when Ronaldo opened the scoring early in the second half, meeting a deep cross from the otherwise disappointing Gareth Bale with a crisply struck and perfectly placed first-time volley into the bottom left corner.

Ronaldo has now scored in ten consecutive games for Real, netting an incredible 20 goals during that period, and perhaps the greatest tribute to his quality was the lack of bite evident in his team’s attacks after he was substituted.

Zidane’s decision to replace his star asset after an hour appeared to have been agreed before the game, with the intention of keeping the 33-year-old fresh for the Champions League run-in over the next few weeks.

The lack of sharpness in front of goal shown by Bale, Karim Benzema and Marco Asensio made it clear that Ronaldo’s scoring touch is crucially important, and although the decision to replace him perhaps backfired for this game, it looks very wise from a long-term perspective.

Ronaldo atletico

Griezmann shines…in final Madrid derby?

Ronaldo’s goal was sharply cancelled out by a poacher’s strike from Antoine Griezmann, and that was a fair reward for another industrious and sure-footed display from the Frenchman, who added a touch of class to an otherwise mundane Atletico attacking performance.

One of the biggest developing stories in the transfer market over the next few months is Barcelona’s pursuit of Griezmann as a short-term partner and long-term replacement for Luis Suarez, and his habit of scoring against Real – he has now netted on his last three league trips to the Bernabeu – certainly won’t harm his prospects of a big-money move.

If the anticipated transfer does materialise, this game will prove to have been Griezmann’s last Madrid derby, and it was an occasion which showed exactly why a move to Camp Nou would appeal as he regularly found himself let down by his team-mates’ lack of killer touch.

In particular, Griezmann produced a moment of magic to perfectly cushion a high dropping ball inside the box and then roll a square pass across the face of goal, but Angel Correa hadn’t read his intentions and couldn’t reach the cross. It’s hard to imagine that Suarez or Lionel Messi would have failed to take full advantage from that position, and Griezmann must be regularly left frustrated that his colleagues often fail to reach his own high standards. Maybe not for much longer.

Griezmann (L)

Barca on course for Clasico celebration?

It’s easy to conclude that this particular Madrid derby was won by Barcelona, whose 3-1 victory over Leganes on Saturday has allowed them to stretch their lead at the top of the table to 11 points.

For Barca fans, the most appealing prospect is that their team could become mathematically certain of taking the title in the forthcoming Clasico against Real at Camp Nou on Sunday 5 May. If the current leaders win their next three games – against Valencia, Celta Vigo and Deportivo La Coruna – and then defeat Real early next month, La Liga’s crown would be returning to Catalonia.

Of course, a similar scenario was available in the Premier League this weekend, but Manchester City blew their big chance of securing the title against hated rivals Manchester United. If Barcelona get a similar chance and take it, the celebrations would be heard on Mars.

BARCELONA-LEGANES

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Madrid derby player ratings as Cristiano Ronaldo gets 7 and Jan Oblak is worth an 8

Andy West 8/04/2018
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Real Madrid and local rivals Atletico played out a 1-1 draw on Sunday afternoon, allowing the visitors to stretch their unbeaten league run at the Bernabeu to five games.

The point also keeps Diego Simeone’s men in control of second place, four points clear of their local rivals with just seven games remaining, but perhaps the team happiest of all with the outcome is Barcelona, whose title march is looking more comfortable than ever.

Check below for our player ratings …

Real Madrid

Keylor Navas 7. Made a great near-post save to deny Costa and an even better one to keep out Koke.

Dani Carvajal 7. Always available down the right and frequently got into dangerous positions around the box.

Raphael Varane 7. Had a snapshot saved from first-half set-piece, and kept Costa comfortably in his pocket.

Sergio Ramos 6. Defended solidly and nearly became the hero with a free-kick inside injury time which Oblak saved.

Marcelo (R)

Marcelo 7. Always looking to spring Real’s attacks. Several dangerous moments and hit the woodwork in the first half.

Lucas Vazquez 6. Tireless down the right flank but had little joy around the box. Booked for diving late on.

Mateo Kovacic 6. Disciplined display in front of the back four, but offered little going forward. Replaced near the end.

Toni Kroos 7. Smooth and assured in the centre of midfield, controlling the flow of the game with excellent passing.

Marco Asensio 5. Disappointing performance, and taken off for the final 20 minutes after failing to get involved.

Gareth Bale 5. Quiet until he delivered a pinpoint cross for Ronaldo’s opener. Otherwise struggled to make an impact.

Cristiano Ronaldo 7. Came close early on and forced good save from long range before opening the scoring with fine volley.

Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo

Karim Benzema 4. Replaced Ronaldo for the final half-hour but was only conspicuous by his absence from the game.

Isco 6. Added a spark of creativity after appearing from the bench without breaking through Atletico’s defence.

Luka Modric 6. Some moments of class from the Croatian playmaker during his 20 minutes on the pitch.

Atletico Madrid

Jan Oblak 8. Made a couple of great saves to deny Ronaldo and Varane, and a superb stoppage time save from Ramos.

Juanfran 6. Perhaps lucky to survive a penalty appeal but solid in possession and a good job defensively.

Stefan Savic 7. Showed great anticipation to break up several attacks with well-timed and unfussy interceptions.

Diego Godin 7. No-nonsense display from the Atletico captain in the heart of defence, forming a brick wall for Real’s frontmen.

Jan Oblak saves a ball

Lucas Hernandez 6. Generally a composed game from the youngster, but he was caught out of position for Ronaldo’s goal.

Vitolo 5. Ineffective game down the right until he broke to deliver smart assist for Griezmann. Subbed soon after.

Thomas Partey 6. Kept his team’s structure with a positionally astute performance in the heart of midfield.

Saul 6. Had the freedom to get forward but had few chances to show his attacking capabilities.

Koke 6. Some excellent play in midfield but also guilty of cheaply conceding possession a few times.

Antoine Griezmann 7. Pounced smartly to level and looked Atletico’s best player throughout, linking midfield with attack.

Antoine Griezmann (L) celebrates a goal

Diego Costa 5. Stretched Real’s defence with powerful running and nearly scored in the first half, but generally ineffective.

Angel Correa 4. Played for the final half hour but made no impact.

Gabi 6. Shored up the middle of the pitch after appearing for the final 20 minutes.

Kevin Gameiro 5. Came on for the last ten minutes but barely had a touch.

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Antoine Griezmann, Cristiano Ronaldo score as Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid draw 1-1

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Antoine Griezmann forced a 1-1 derby draw between Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid at the Bernabeu but neither Spanish giant will be satisfied with a share of the points as Barcelona close in on the title.

Cristiano Ronaldo broke the deadlock early in the second half, briefly drawing reigning champions Real to within 13 points of runaway leaders Barca, but Griezmann equalised four minutes later.

Taking a solitary point means Atletico are 11 behind Barcelona and it looks unlikely they will chase the Catalans down over the remaining seven games of the season.

Keylor Navas saved from Diego Costa when Atletico first came knocking and the Costa Rica goalkeeper repeated the trick shortly before half-time.

Ronaldo silenced the Rojiblancos fans by volleying home the opener from a Gareth Bale cross in the 53rd minute but Atletico were not rattled and promptly levelled through Griezmann.

The France international was lurking when the ball spilled to him in the Real box and he celebrated his goal by performing the ‘Take the L’ dance from popular video game Fortnite.

Navas stopped Atletico coming from behind to win by denying Koke and Saul Niguez’s effort in the 71st minute went just wide.

Earlier, Levante put breathing space between themselves and the relegation zone after a last-gasp 2-1 win over Las Palmas despite finishing with nine men at Ciutat de Valencia.

Coke gave the hosts the lead in the 35th minute but it was cancelled out five minutes after half-time by David Garcia.

Las Palmas found themselves with a man advantage four minutes from time when Coke was shown a second yellow card.

But it was Levante who found the winner two minutes into stoppage time through Jose Campana, and there was still time for Ruben Rochina to be sent off.

The result moved Levante 10 points ahead of their opponents and eight clear of the bottom three.

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