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Zidane suffers his first setback

Zidane’s first away game ended in a draw against a Betis side who started strongly, taking the lead after just six minutes but who struggled towards the end of the game to contain Madrid. Zidane elected to play James ahead of Jesé and despite not playing well his presence in midfield helped Modric play with more freedom than usual. Isco also played in the centre and had one of his better recent performances. More debatable was Zidane’s decision to use Danilo ahead of Carvajal. He had to correct this error during the course of the march making his misjudgment even more blatant. There is a considerable gulf in quality between Carvajal and Danilo to think one can be switched for the other.

Betis took an early and deserved lead, but Madrid slowly took control of the game but were always lacking a certain something. They needed James to be more incisive, Danilo’s passing game to improve, they also needed that Cristiano, despite working hard was more accurate in front of goal. Being truthful, only Benzema offered anything by way of attacking threat for Madrid. He was involved in a penalty call when he was stamped on by Betis defender, Petros.He was the goal scorer too after an assist from James (who was incidentally in an offside position when receiving the ball). Madrid felt that official, Martínez Munuera also denied them of a second spot kick when Cristiano was held back. This was more difficult to call but it's fair to say that the referee didn’t have a memorable evening.

As the whistle blew, it was Betis who were the happier of the teams with Adán hailed as the local hero. A draw is a good result for the Andalusian side who could indeed have sneaked a win at the end when Rubén Castro shot into the side netting. Disappointment for Madrid as they seeBarça open a gap of four points at the top of the table with a game in hand. With Atlético andSevilla also drawing in a tense 0-0 at the Calderon, it was a great weekend for the Catalan club who using the calculation system of the legendary Vujadin Boskov, picked up seven points: their three for the win in Malaga along with two and two that both Madrid sides failed to secure. In the modern game, at the top of La Liga, a draw is perceived as a defeat and as a results it was Real Madrid who left Heliopolis with a bitter taste.