Real Madrid did a great job beating Athletic last Wednesday to conquer the leadership for the first time this season, but threw it all away after being unable to beat Málaga, who was the last team in La Liga table with two points out of fifteen. Just like it happened at El Molinón a few weeks ago, an enormous amount of shots did not suffice for Los Blancos to score a single goal that would have given them the victory.
Real Madrid: Navas; Carvajal, Varane, Nacho, Marcelo; Kroos, Modric, Isco; Benzema, Ronaldo, Jesé (Kovacic, 55').
Málaga: Kameni; Rosales, Angeleri, Welligton, Miguel Torres; Tissone, Recio, Juankar, Fornals (Horta, 79'); Amrabat, Tighadouini (Juanpi, 69').
The first half
Los Blancos started off on the right foot, trying to set a very fast tempo to score an early goal that would have made things quite easy for them, as their four clear chances in the first ten minutes prove. In fact, Cristiano Ronaldo scored with a great header in the seventh minute, but he was offside and the goal was correctly disallowed.
Málaga's defenders seemed overwhelmed by the great amount of work they had, but it seemed as if Kameni's great deployment inspired them, and they started to make it harder for Real Madrid to reach their box, and Málaga got a chance to counterattack. Tighadouini and Recio were doing a good job between the white lines, and an extremely fast Amrabat brought a lot of trouble to Nacho.
By the thirtieth minute, Benítez sent Jesé and Modric to the left and made Ronaldo attack the box more fiercely, and these were the best minutes by Real Madrid in today's game. Big Flow created three consecutive chances that Kameni blocked brilliantly, and just before the break Ronaldo and Isco had a couple more, but the scoreboard did not change at all.
The second half
Being aware of what happened in Gijón, Los Blancos kept pushing for a goal just after the break. Ronaldo had a good chance right in the first minute, but Kameni saved it brilliantly. On the other side, Málaga did not seem to be willing to settle for a draw, and controlled the ball and had more chances than one would have expected until the tenth minute. Fortunately, Navas was there to leave an extraordinary save when Recio tried to score with a free-kick.
In the thirteenth minute, Jesé left the field injured (apparently, he has some muscular problem in his calf) and Kovacic took his place. However, Los Blancos did not improve their control of the ball and their attacks were monotonous: Málaga had given up to defend the wings, so it was all a matter of time to find some space there to cross the ball inside the box for someone to head it in. It was not a good day for Benzema or, specially, Ronaldo, though. The latter shot fourteen times and did not manage to put it past Kameni, and this lack of accuracy is a problem Benítez will have to solve.
Only Modric seemed to be willing to try something different and, after a good combination with Carvajal in the right wing, managed to send a good ball to Isco, who scored. The lineman, however, wrongly considered the Croatian to be offside, and the 0-0 remained.
In the last few minutes, Benítez sent Varane upfront to gain some aerial power, but the crosses by Marcelo and Carvajal were not precise enough. Even after being left with only ten men after Amrabat was sent off, Málaga resisted and kept the 0-0 until the end. Los Blancos will need to do it far better than today in order to get a good result out of the Calderón next Sunday.