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João Félix and Hazard failed to show up for derby date


Fabio Capello once told me that he only expected his goalkeepers to make one save – the save of the match. After seeing Jan Oblak at full stretch to deny Benzema in last night’s derby, you get a good idea of what Capello means. That was the save of the match, which snuffed out the only moment of danger during the game. It was a closely-contested derby, one in which Atlético played as they usually do and Madrid were more cautious than usual. Madrid attacked with few players, both full-backs were reserved going forward and the priority seemed to keep a third consecutive clean sheet. Courtois only had only risk to take, when he came off his line to deal with a Trippier cross.

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Few chances in the Madrid derby

In short, caution was the order of the day and when that’s the case, goals will only arrive if someone miraculously pulls one out of the hat. There were certainly players out of the field of play who are more than capable of that – all eyes were focused on João Félix and Hazard, the new boys. But neither showed up on the day. João Félix was clean through early on but scuffed his shot wide. At least that was more than Hazard... Both were taken off – but the only chance of note was Benzema’s header that was palmed away by Oblak. Diego Costa fought relentlessly, but that was about it – he didn’t create any real real danger. We really missed Morata, who is far better at finding a way through when defences close up shop.

Atlético's Thomas
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Standout performances in a dismal derby

It was a game that was cut out for Thomas who toiled, recovered the ball whenever the team lost it and propelled Atleti into attack; an all-round performance from a midfielder who just keeps getting better and better. Kroos improved as the match wore on and even had a couple of attempts from outside the area which Oblak saved. Bale had a good first half but faded after the break. Trippier managed to break forward down his wing but his crosses were not up to his usual standard. Those were the scant highlights of a derby which failed to produce any goals in which the real winner was Barça, who beat Getafe to return home with seven points – the three which they picked up at the Coliseum and four which the two Madrid teams dropped. As Ramos sighed afterwards, a point feels like a poor compensation.