Real Madrid missed the chance to go top of La Liga with Zinedine Zidane’s side held to a goalless draw by second-bottom Osasuna in snowy conditions.
The postponement of Atletico Madrid’s home fixture against Athletic Club due to heavy snow in the capital gave Los Blancos the chance to leapfrog their rivals in the table, but they failed to take that opportunity.
Eden Hazard was handed his first league start of the season following a lengthy layoff due to injury, while Lucas Vazquez filled in at right back again with Dani Carvajal ruled out of the match through suspension.
'This was not a football match' - Zidane on playing in blizzard
The freezing conditions in Pamplona made things difficult for both sides. Goalscoring opportunities were at a premium in the opening 45 minutes as the players struggled for grip on the icey playing surface.
Karim Benzema and Sergio Ramos both had goals ruled out for offside. Marco Asensio had an excellent effort saved by Sergio Herrera, with Roberto Torres also coming close to finding the back of the net for the home side, but neither side could find the breakthrough as they were forced to settle for a point apiece.
TALKING POINT - Why did Zinedine Zidane take off Marco Asensio?
Just as Asensio was starting to truly give Osasuna problems and drive Real Madrid forward, Zidane made the peculiar decision to withdraw him. This backfired as the defending Spanish champions struggled to create opportunities without Asensio on the pitch. Even more baffling was Zidane’s decision to also take off Hazard and Luka Modric when his side needed more creativity in their ranks. A goalless draw is exactly what Real Madrid deserved from this match.
JANUARY 09: Ruben Garcia of CA Osasuna tackles Marco Asensio of Real Madrid during the La Liga Santander match between C.A. Osasuna and Real Madrid at Estadio El Sadar on January 09, 2021 in Pamplona, Spain.
Image credit: Getty Images
MAN OF THE MATCH - Luka Modric (Real Madrid)
While Modric has played better in recent weeks, he was still the one player who looked prepared to drive Real Madrid forward through the centre of the pitch. The Croatian has been in exceptional form of late and the confidence he is playing with was evident in some of the passes and outside-of-the-boot flicks he pulled off in the 75 minutes he was on the pitch. Others around Modric didn’t seem so inspired.
Jonathan Calleri of Osasuna, Luka Modric of Real Madrid during the La Liga Santander match between Osasuna v Real Madrid at the Estadio El Sadar on January 9, 2021 in Pamplona Spain
Image credit: Getty Images
Osasuna - Herrera 7, Vidal 6, D. Garcia 6, Aridane 5, Cruz 5, Oier 6, Moncayola 6, I. Perez 7, R. Torres 6, R. Garcia 6, Calleri 7. Subs - Jony 4, Budimir 5.
Real Madrid - Courtois 7, Vazquez 5, Varane 6, Ramos 6, Mendy 5, Modric 7, Casemiro 5, Kroos 7, Asensio 7, Benzema 5, Hazard 5. Subs - Mariano 4 , Isco 4, Valverde 4.
30’ The best chance of the match! Oier gets a header on goal and draws the reflex save out of Courtois! That's the closest either side has come to finding the back of the net in the opening 30 minutes.
51’ What an effort from Asensio! Great control and skill from the Spain international, he created the space for the shot, but Herrera made a stunning save to stop a stunning Real Madrid goal!
60’ GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO... NO! Benzema looks to have bundled hom a messy finish following a wonderful cross from Kroos, but the Frenchman is flagged for offside! That was close!
89’ GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO... NO! Real Madrid have a goal chalked off for a second time. Benzema played the ball into Ramos who converted from close range, but the Frenchman was offside!
Real Madrid failed to register a single shot on target in the first half of a game for the first time this season in all competitions.
Real Madrid have now dropped points in back-to-back league games and failed to score for the third time in La Liga this season.