Real Madrid 0-0 Cádiz. Here is the immediate reaction to the draw. Still to come: press conference quotes, player ratings and the post game podcast.
Cádiz were next up for Real Madrid on the La Liga fixture list, and victory was as important as ever for a side aiming to be champions come the end of the season. For that reason, the line-up remained predictably strong, with one of the more significant developments being the inclusion of Eden Hazard from the start for the first time since September. Nine Castilla graduates were in the Madrid squad, with Cádiz bringing a further six back home to try and ruin their former club’s run of form. Karim Benzema captained the team in the absence of Marcelo.
Madrid took control within the first minute, barely letting the visitors even touch the ball in the opening segment. They created a large amount of chances, but few came closer than a beautiful effort from long range by Fede Valverde that took a big save to stop. Casemiro was the main man of the half, but unfortunately not for good reason. The midfielder’s distribution gave the visitors their only sniff, but luckily did not amount to anything. He was then lucky to even stay on the pitch, as he needlessly launched himself with his studs showing towards a contained player, earning himself a yellow for chopping him down. That yellow means that he will miss the next game. The tables could have turned for him, after the best chance of the half fell centimetres away from his head, but he ended up looking funny as the very target he was trying to hit got in the way of his header. This one wasn’t actually as bad as it looked as the ball hit the post as flew out just as the Brazilian was winding his neck up to score the open goal. A few more long ranged attempts from Lucas Vázquez and Ferland Mendy were not enough to stop the half ending goalless.
The chances kept flying in during the second half, and they were even cleaner than in the first. Frustrations began to rise as efforts from Vinícius Júnior, Eden Hazard and Karim Benzema were met by the keeper. Former Madrid man Álvaro Negredo had the visitors’ best chance of the game as he shot just wide, and then it returned to business as usual at the other end. Benzema went down after kicking the ground believing he had been fouled inside the area, but the referee saw the sequence very clearly and made the right decision. Cádiz were happy to sit very deep and soak up the pressure to try and secure a point, allowing Madrid to gain over 80% possession of the ball as they looked to break them down. Benzema was denied yet again by the goalkeeper before Hazard was seemingly brought down in the box. The stronger shout was also shut down by the referee. Shots kept coming in from Real Madrid, but Cádiz were putting their bodies on the line, blocking whatever came their way. Substitute Luka Jović dragged a shot wide late on, and Hazard came close - but this was a game that seemed destined to finish 0-0. A stalemate it was, as Madrid dropped two points for the first time in seven games. Their lead at the top of the table remains strong due to their impressive form, so this will hopefully be a frustrating blip that will be quickly forgotten. Don’t miss the post game coverage to further analyse how three points slipped away...