At the Wanda Metropolitano, it was the Madrid Derby and one of the most important fixtures this weakened for both sides. For Real Madrid, it was very important. Their five-match winning run in the league was ended in a 1-1 draw with Real Sociedad last Monday. Zinedine Zidane’s side have been playing catch up for a number of months and is five points behind Atleti, whom they have played a game more than. This, then, is effectively a must-win clash for the visitors. But they ended up dropping points.

Atletico Madrid’s form has been inconsistent of late, though they did beat Villarreal 2-0 last weekend to pick up a second win in five league outings. Diego Simeone’s men enter this game with their bitter rivals two points clear of Barcelona at the top of La Liga, having played two games fewer than their closest challengers.

Atletico show two changes from their victory against Villarreal last weekend, both coming in the wing-back positions. Trippier is back from a 10-week ban for breaching betting regulations and takes over from Vrsaljko on the right, while Carrasco is preferred to the benched Saul on the other flank. Suarez was leading the forward.

Zidane has also made a couple of changes following the draw with Sociedad. Benzema is back from an injury lay-off in a major fitness boost for the visitors, the Frenchman taking the place of Mariano Diaz, who is not in the squad today because of an injury, sustained last time out. Then, Rodrygo Goes was preferred over Isco.

Even though Atleti applied the 3-4-2-1 formation against Villarreal, they got back to the traditional 4-4-2 against Real Madrid’s 4-3-3.

Real Madrid started slowly and paid the price for this.

Trippier, deep in his own half, played a straight pass towards Llorente on the halfway line who nipped away from Nacho, surged into space, and then poked a pass to put Suarez through on goal. He finished with a swagger, flicking the ball past Courtois.

That goal sparked Madrid into life with Asensio leading from the front – he sent a cross in from the left and an unmarked Benzema met it 12 yards out, but his first-time finish was an easy one for Oblak to deal with.

Madrid enjoyed the possession and Atleti sat back to soak up the pressure.

Casemiro’s flighted cross is headed well wide by Benzema, who got above Savic near the penalty spot. Another cross from Asensio skims the head of Benzema at the near post, who jumped too early and could not connect well. Modric swung a long-range shot high over the bar.

Real players appealed for handball when a corner flashed across the face of Atleti’s goal. The referee was not interested. It certainly hit the outstretched arm of Felipe, who saw the ball late and missed an attempted header. It’s being checked by VAR and no penalty was awarded to the dissatisfaction of Zidane.

The finishing of the Los Blancos had been sluggish and at half time Atleti had the edge.

After the break Real enjoyed more control over the ball as Modric and Benzema combined to find Lucas Vazquez, whose low cross was put behind for a corner.

Lucas Vazquez’s long-range shot ricochetted around the Atleti area before being booted clear.

Rodrygo and Asensio switched wings to inject variation.

Casemiro’s cross was headed straight at Oblak by Nacho, who did well to get above Trippier at the far post.

In the meantime, Atleti broke through.

Carrasco, on the left, played a one-two with Suarez, moved through on goal, and hammered a shot that was superbly blocked by the outrushing Courtois. Then Lemar slid a sweet pass inside Vazquez to release Carrasco on the left. He cut the ball back to Suarez, who screwed a left-footed shot that was smothered by Courtois.

Two fine saves by the Belgian kept Real alive in the game.

Llorente, who was enjoying a great afternoon, led a counterattack but ended up with Suarez spanking wide.

Joao Felix came in and was immediately in action with Suarez’s clever header found Felix on the left of the area. He gave the ball back to Suarez, whose crisp first-time shot is straight at Courtois.

With just ten minutes remaining Oblak made a double save – Vinicius, on the left, flicked a terrific cross with the outside of his right foot towards Benzema, who stretched to hit a shot that was blocked at point-blank range by Oblak. Benzema was first to the rebound but Oblak got to his feet to make an even better second save.

That save hinted it was not Real Madrid’s day.

But, with two minutes remaining, Karim Benzema found the net.

Benzema dropped deep to receive possession 30 yards from goal, surged at the defence, and quickly tapped the ball through to Casemiro in the area. He drew Oblak and then eased the ball across to give Benzema an open goal.

It was one of the most delicate of passes under pressure by Casemiro, which resulted in the goal and salvation of prestige.

Both teams had their chances but neither could exploit enough whereas the goalkeepers of both sides had been outstanding.

Real Madrid are still alive in the competition, but still, they need to overcome the sluggishness.

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