Madrid derby VII stuck in no-man’s land to leave Spain's papers puzzled
If fans of either Atlético Madrid or Real Madrid were looking for some guidance from the local papers about how to process Tuesday night’s goalless draw in the Champions League, they'd have been left none the wiser.
Like everyone else watching, the giant realm of Pundit Land was also in a quandary over how to read the final outcome. “The result was good under normal conditions, but less so when your opponent is Atlético, a big specialist away from home,” saged former Madrid player Manolo Sánchis in Marca.
On the one hand, Real Madrid managed not to lose again and clearly had the upper hand in the first half, before a more traditional dogged derby affair developed in the second period.
Indeed, this was the theme on the front pages of both Marca and AS, who noted that Jan Oblak was in inspired form to keep Atlético Madrid in the tie.
In the eight previous situations when Real Madrid have secured a goalless draw in the first leg, the Décima-boasting outfit have gone through. “The best result of the worst ones,” noted Diego Simeone.
But then again, this was the seventh time this season that Real Madrid have failed to beat the Rojiblancos – the first time a run of that length has happened in 113 years. There's a feeling that perhaps Real Madrid should have corrected this, and that the run may extend to eight in the Bernabéu next Wednesday.
“Madrid... will regret the missed opportunity and now we are going to hear a lot that it’s now seven matches without beating Atlético,” writes AS editor Alfredo Relaño in Wednesday’s edition. What’s more, Atlético too have always gone through with the same scoreline in first leg European knockout games.
The big elephants in the room barely touched on were the early miss from Gareth Bale and a bit of a quiet night for Cristiano Ronaldo. However, the former did warrant an observation from Iker Casillas after the game, with the Madrid captain wincing: “If he had scored then the match would have been quite different.”
It's the living legend Tomás Roncero who perhaps best sums up the all-city affair, though, writing in AS that Atlético were like a boxer in a heavyweight title fight “trying to win on points after 15 rounds without landing any clear punches”. Hats off.
Tonight it's Barcelona’s turn to go through the wringer when the Catalan club take on a PSG team with 11 players who aren't Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The Swede was sent off against Chelsea in the last 16, but is also currently serving a four-match sentence domestically for general insults towards France. Lucky he wasn’t thrown onto the guillotine.
Of course, there is still plenty of talent among Laurent Blanc’s ranks, including the wantaway Edinson Cavani, a player with the enormous hump that King Zlatan is always going to be in his goal-getting way. Not on Wednesday night, though.
Barcelona have their own problems with incredible sulk forwards: Neymar is in hot water for making rather cheeky gestures behind Luis Enrique's back after being subbed off during last Saturday’s Sevilla game. “I understand that everyone wants to be on the pitch, but I make the decisions,” huffed the coach.
The Brazilian is unlikely to be punished by not making the starting line-up, but it seems a shame that Pedro can't get a runout in the Parc des Princes. Something a little bit different might be needed up front in what could be a dangerous affair for Barcelona.