Real came out and attacked with pace, determined to break Atleti's press with direct runs from Gareth Bale and Dani Carvajal. Bale blazed in on Oblak early and was denied on the first of a sequence six otherworldly first-half stops. Bale seemed to be deployed more centrally than normal by Carlo Ancelotti and the Welshman offered a blistering dimension of directness that caught Atletico off guard early. To offset this, Karim Benzema often drifted further out to the left where Real were trying to leverage their width down the flanks. Ultimately this reduced Benzema's effectiveness somewhat as Madrid quickly began to focus their forays on the right flank where Carvajal, much like he did against Eibar, acted as a furious press-breaking wingback carving open large swathes of space for Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo to operate in. Unlucky, Bale unleashed a deadly long-range volley that Oblak was somehow able to control.
Ancelotti's focus on playing down the flanks was a logical strategy due to the dull, lifeless pitch and Atletico's typical midfield traffic jam approach. It likely would have yielded a goal were it not for the heroics of Oblak. Atleti were able to expertly defend the width of the penalty area, disrupting midfield zones and picking up loose balls for counterattacks. Luka Modric eventually began to find some light in the midfield, starting a few dangerous sequences of play. James Rodriguez, harassed and pounded repeatedly into the turf by Atleti's physical rugby style marking, almost brokethrough in the 36th minute with an audacious Jordan Spieth style chip with the outside of his left boot, but Oblak was equal to the task.
In turn, Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane were able to stifle most of Atletico's forward movement through the first 70 minutes, before it seemed that Real began to collectively tire leaving the door open for Atleti to attack and create a handful of set-piece opportunities. Atletico didn't really carry much of a threat until this stage of the match, as Antonio Griezmann was largely nullified and Mario Mandzukic was flustered, battered and psychologically removed from the contest by an errant Ramos elbow. Yellow cards started to fly as tempers continued to flare and Marcelo earned a booking that will prevent him from playing in the decisive second leg next Wednesday.
Perhaps buoyed by their rabid support, Atletico seemed the fitter, sharper side through the last 10 minutes, coming perilously close to snatching a goal in the 89th minute when Iker Casillas half-heartedly waved at a ball in the box. The resulting corner was brushed away after some anxious seconds where the ball pinged dangerously around the goal.
An away goal would have at least been a nice prize, but the tie remains deadlocked and fully within Real's reach.