Thursday, December 9, 2021

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Madrid slip up in La Liga title race

Real Madrid slipped up in LaLiga on Saturday by playing a goalless draw at home to Real Betis, three days ahead of their Champions League semifinal against Chelsea.

Eden Hazard was thrown on for the last 15 minutes of the 0-0 draw at Valdebebas in what was only the Belgian’s second appearance in three months but Madrid could not find a way through.

Atletico are now two points clear at the top of LaLiga and can extend that advantage to five by winning away at Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.

Barcelona could pull level on points with Real Madrid if they overcome Villarreal later on Sunday.

After an impressive few weeks in which Real Madrid knocked Liverpool out of the Champions League and became favourites to overhaul Atletico in LaLiga, Zidane’s team have now been held to three draws in their last four matches, all of them without scoring a goal.

Neither side had much success in the first half but the game opened up in the second as the rain poured down and the ball began to skid across the turf.

Rodrygo struck the bar, his overhit cross almost flying in, before Betis had three chances in 10 minutes, the best of them falling to Borja Iglesias but he hesitated and Dani Carvajal intervened.

Madrid, though, came again as Luka Modric’s bending effort was saved before Marcelo found space in the box but skewed his finish wide of the post.

Marcelo and Alvaro Odriozola had come on, with Zidane deploying wing-backs to find a winner, and then Hazard was introduced with 15 minutes left.

Hazard weaved inside and picked out Vinicius Junior but Vinicius slipped with the goal in sight as Madrid settled for a point.

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