Real Madrid 1-0 Atletico Madrid
Real Madrid are six points clear at the top of La Liga after a second-half strike from Karim Benzema saw off Atletico in the Madrid derby.
It was a game of two halves: the first a tight and evenly matched affair, but after the break, Los Blancos totally dominated and were never under threat.
Barcelona, in second place, have a game in hand but the latest La Liga 2020 predictions are now on the side of Zinedine Zidane’s Real, and it’s over to the Blaugrana tomorrow.
The white half of Madrid will be watching the La Liga 2020 updates keenly over the weekend, but for now, they can celebrate another derby triumph.
There’s a steely look about this Real Madrid side. The last time Los Blancos played at the Santiago Bernabeu was mid-January when a Casemiro double gave them a 2-1 win over Sevilla. And they had to work for their victory again today, but that’s two top-four-chasing sides put away.
Atleti came here on a poor run of form, an embarrassing Copa del Rey exit to Cultural Leones sandwiched by defeat to Eibar and a home draw against struggling Leganes. And now they are 13 points behind their city rivals, but they are still well in the hunt for a Champions League spot.
Highlights of the game
Los Blancos started the brighter; Luka Modric had a shot charged down and Sergio Ramos tried his luck from distance twice, but both times shooting way over Jan Oblak’s bar.
Toni Kroos took a pass from Federico Valverde but he too fired well over, and the first save to be made was at the other end of the pitch. Vitolo found space in the penalty area and hit a snapshot which was easily held by Thibaut Courtois.
Atleti had a good period of play, winning successive corners and when the second one swung over, Saul Niguez came close with his effort. Then when Vitolo found Angel Correa with a little room, his shot from a tight angle crashed against the post.
As half-time approached, Modric crossed for Casemiro but his header was blocked. As the teams went in for the break, fans of both teams, but particularly the home side, hoped for more in the second half.
And it came. Real started brightly and when Vinicius Junior passed to Federico Valverde, his shot brought a smart save from Oblak low to his left. But there was nothing the Atleti keeper could do when Ferland Mendy crossed for Benzema and the French hitman fired his 13th league goal of the season into the bottom-right corner.
The hosts pressed for a second. Valverde combined well again with Vinicius Junior to set up the young Brazilian, but his shot was well-saved by Oblak.
Atletico looked short of ideas and Los Blancos looked the more likely to score. Junior tested Oblak again after taking a pass from Benzema when his low shot was saved in the bottom left corner. But one was always going to be enough.
We expected a tight game here at SBOTOP, and each side registered just a single shot on target in the first half. But Los Blancos totally dominated the second period, finishing with 16 shots to four, and five to one on target.
A single-goal game was no surprise, as Benzema’s strike was just the 15th goal Atleti have conceded, while Los Blancos have conceded only 13.
Real Madrid are now on an eight-match winning run and are unbeaten at home in 14 matches. But Los Rojiblancos have work to do; they are without a win in five.
Barcelona play tomorrow and this win for the leaders will have added extra pressure to the back-to-back champions. Having sacked Ernesto Valverde, the appointment of Quique Setien as head coach raised some eyebrows.
Lionel Messi gave Setien a winning start at the Camp Nou, inspiring a victory over Granada, but defeat to Valencia rapidly ended any hopes of a honeymoon period for the new boss.
The Blaugrana are at home to Levante tomorrow. It’s a game they should win against a side in 13th place and on a run of three consecutive defeats.
Next up, Real Madrid have a Copa del Rey date at home to Real Sociedad before taking the trip to Osasuna to continue their title bid next Sunday.
Meanwhile, Los Rojiblancos are at home to Granada next Saturday and should get back to winning ways.