Toothless Madrid fail to make a dent in Lions' defensive ploy

Rob Train

Toothless Madrid fail to make a dent in Lions' defensive ploy

Real Madrid vs Athletic Bilbao live online: as it happened

Thanks for joining us. Merry Christmas! See you in January for the second half of the season! 

And that marks the first time in 13 years that Madrid have been held to goalless draws in consecutive games. 

So Barcelona carve out a two-point lead in the race for the title! 

Pts MP W D L
1 39 18 12 3 3
2 37 18 10 7 1
3 34 18 10 4 4
4 32 18 8 8 2
5 31 18 9 4 5

The home side had the better of the chances but just couldn't apply the clinical touch required. 


And that's it! It ends goalless in Madrid and Barcelona go into the break as "winter champions" as they say. For Madrid, that's three Liga games without a win, and two without a goal. 


Athletic almost nick it at the death but Courtois makes a brilliant save! 


Benzema! The Frenchman is almost through but Unai is out quickly to meet him! 


Lekue! Another vision of glory for an Athletic player and it's closer this time but still doesn't trouble Courtois. 


Kroos again goes route one but it's bread and butter for Unai. 


Kroos bangs one into the box but Bale can't reach it. Kitchen sink stuff now. Will Courtois come up for a 96th-minute corner? Worked a treat at Mestalla. 


Beñat sees his name on the back pages tomorrow as he lets loose from distance, but it's a poor effort and well wide. 


It has limited success as a long ball is sent Mendy's way. He thinks he's won a corner but the ref says goal kick. 


Garitano ordering his players to stay up now and apply the press to stop Madrid getting forward. 


Nacho concedes a free kick with a clatter into his fellow sub Villalibre. 


Six minutes added! Not sure where the match officials found them. 


It's cleared, but the cross comes in from the rebound to Benzema, who glances a header wide. 


Corner to Madrid.... time running out for the home side. 


Sergio Ramos goes in the book for preventing an Athletic break. 


Jovic! The sub hits the foot of the post with a header! Ramos can't get a boot on the follow-up. That's the third woodwork Real have hit this evening. 


Another change for the visitors as Williams heads off. 


Villalibre concedes a bit of an unneccesary foul on Mendy to hand possesion back to Madrid. 


Iñígo Martínez throws out a boot to cut out Carvajal's cross. Bale is then presented a half chance but can't connect. A loose ball flies across the area and there's no white shirts there. Benzema then has the ball nicked off his boot by Unai on the follow-up. You suspect it just isn't going to happen for Madrid today. And that's largely because Athletic have been excellent in defence


It's aimed towards Ramos again but well defended by Yuri. 


Dani García concedes a free kick that could be promising for Madrid... 

Which would leave the table looking like this ahead of the winter break. 

Pts MP W D L
1 39 18 12 3 3
2 37 18 10 7 1
3 34 18 10 4 4
4 32 18 8 8 2
5 31 18 9 4 5

Madrid currently heading towards a third consecutive Liga draw... 


Villalibre! The Athletic sub lets loose and it's not far from hitting the target. 


Another long ball from Carvajal, and Bale can't prevent it rolling out for another goal kick. 


Real struggling to come up with any fresh ideas in attack and Carvajal hoists a nothing ball into the area that bounces straight out for a goal kick. The Bernabéu is getting restless... 


And a change for visitors as Kodro heads off for Asier Villalibre.  


Corner to Athletic as Nacho cuts out a cross. 


Bale! The Welshman lets fly and it's not far away from the top corner of Unai's goal. 


Courtois is forced to race out to halfway into his own half to beat Williams to a ball. It's straight up the other end and Modric gets a shot off but it's blocked. The game has really opened up now! 


Short corner from Athletic, comes to nothing. Valverde releases Vinicius but Yuri is there to deal with the threat. The Brazilian chases him down to the delight of the crowd, but the throw goes Athletic's way. 


Ramos loses possession, Yeray delivers a beautiful ball towards Williams and Carvajal, again, is there to nick it off his boot! 


It's aimed towards Ramos but he's penalised for an elbow on Martínez. 


Good work from Carvajal again and the right back forces a corner... 


Penalty shout! Mendy is bundled to the floor in the area but the ref waves it away. 


Benzema! A fierce strike from an acute angle is just about dealt with by Unai, whose parry finds Benzema again. The Frenchman wasn't expecting it though and miscontrols. 


Carvajal swift to react to the lurking danger of Williams, nodding it back to Courtois. 


Bale's first touch is a lovely little back heel but Modric and Benzema trip over each other going for the shot. 


Rodrygo the player to make way. 


Meanwhile, Gareth Bale is on for the final half hour. 


Ouch! Lekue is down after trying to close down Mendy and getting a full-blooded clearance right in the family jewels. 


Nacho! His first touch is a thumping header onto the bar! Ramos tries to bury the rebound but he's offside. 


Corner to the home side... 


Modric dances through a couple of tackles in midfield before being floored. No card though, much to the Croatian's chagrin. 


And Militao is heading off, he took a crack in the eye there and Nacho is getting ready to come on. That's thwarted Zidane's immediate tactical plans. 


Valverde almost puts himself through and Vinicius takes up the chase but Unai is out to beat him to it. 


Kroos with a free kick into the area towards Ramos but it's cleared again with ease. Madrid ain't getting through via that route. 


Militao in a spot of bother after a collision and he looks like he may have taken a knock to the head in a 50-50 with Raúl García. He's looking a little dizzy and signalling to the bench. 


In fairness to Vinicius, there are shades of the Sporting Lisbon version of Cristiano Ronaldo to him. So, you know, we'll see... 


Kroos with a deep ball into the box for Militao, who nods it back across the face but is called offside anyway. 


Vinicius again with some utterly pointless showboating, resulting in a backwards ball to Kroos. His number, we fancy, is coming up shortly... 


Vinicius twists, turns, leaps, dances, almost gets clear of two attendat defenders but the ref signals the ball went over the byline. Goal kick. 

Bale out to warm up... or is he just scarpering early to beat the traffic? 

No changes so far by the looks of things. 


We're back underway! 0-0 in the Bernabéu after 45 minutes. 

The teams are in the tunnel ready to come out for the second half... 

OK, it wasn't 180 or so as we said earlier, but 137 consecutive Liga games for Iñaki Williams, the ninth longest in history and the longest of any player in the 21st century. 

The pure speed of Gareth Bale is also an option for the Madrid manager. Athletic will continue to do what they've been doing, soaking up the pressure and looking to release Williams and Kodro when they have the chance. It almost paid dividends but a marginal offside decision denied the Bosnia and Herzegovina striker (who was born in San Sebastián, hence his eligibility for Athletic). 


Zidane may want to consider bringing on Isco on for the second half. Rodrygo has been fairly quiet, a couple of decent crosses for Benzema aside, and the way Athletic are set up defensively Real are being pushed out to the flanks too much to do any real damage. 

10 shots for Madrid in the first half, five of them on target but Unai has yet to be really tested. 


And that's the half! Hardly a sliver of added time. It's all been good clean fun so far but 0-0 it remains in the Bernabéu! 


It's cleared though and Modric can't find a telling pass from the rebound. 


Vinicius wins a corner for Madrid. Might be the last chance of the half... 


But it's ruled out for offside. It was a hell of a crack from Kodro but won't stand! 


Athletic have the ball in the net! 


If anything Zidane could do with telling Modric to move even further up as a second striker in support of Benzema... 


That time they almost did and it fell to the man of the moment, Benzema, who shanks a shot well wide of the far post!


Madrid are getting plenty of the ball on the edge of the Athletic area but it's a red and white wall when they're in possession and not even Modric can pick the lock.  


Benzema with another header from another Rodrygo cross and Uani with another regulation save. 


Not sure what Carvajal was attempting there but a sort of outside of the boot backspin cross causes the Athletic back line zero problems. 


Williams is almost through and clear but is adjudged to have fouled Militao in the act, fortunately for the Portuguese, who hasn't the pace to deal with the Athletic striker. Real will have to make sure he doesn't get too many chances to go one on one with his opposite number. 


Kodro, who hasn't really got much of a sniff so far, picks up the ball but is hustled off it before the first Ramos-García clash, with the Athletic man coming off worst from a glancing of heads. 


Benzema again! He bursts onto a loose ball, glides out to the right but can't find the angle to beat Unai and Núñez back heels it off the line! 


Benzema! he has a staggering record against Athletic and tests Unai with a close range header from Rodrygo's cross. 


Lovely from Valverde as he skips through two challenges to get Madrid on the front foot. Little wonder all that talk of Paul Pogba has gone rather quiet. €5m, the Uruguayan cost. Quite the bit of business. 


It's just not happening for Madrid at the moment. Carvajal finds Ramos with a hail mary and the captain trips over his own feet in the area. 


Modric tries some magic on the edge of the area but is beaten to his flick to himself by an outswung boot. You fancy if Real are going to find a way through, it will be via the Croatian. 

70 percent possession for the home side so far... 

70.6% 29.4%
possession/5 minutes
  • 0
  • 15
  • 30
  • 45
  • 60
  • 75
  • 90
  • 64% 35%
  • 65% 34%
  • 82% 17%
  • 75% 25%
  • 67% 32%
Yellow cards
red cards
fouls won
fouls commited
lost balls
ball recovered
goalkeeper interventions

Yeray is told to cool his boots by the ref as he goes into the back of Vincius in midfield. 


Vinicius at the other end, a diving header... the Brazilian is closer to hitting the back of the net himself than his eventual effort, which hits the turf and lands harmlessly in Unia's gloves. 


Mlitao placed a lot of faith in his keeper there with Williams on his shoulder and the Athletic man gets a shot off as a result, but it's not a venemous one and Courtois gathers. 


An absloute reducer from Unai Núñez leaves Kroos in a heap but the ref waves play on and Athletic have another decent opening before the Real rearguard regroup. 


Courtois! A loose pass from Valverde is picked up by Raúl García, who sends Williams through. He hits a low, hard shot and the Belgian does well to get down and turn it behind for a corner. 


Kroos! The German bursts through, hammers a left foot shot and it clips Unai's shoulder on its way onto the bar, bouncing just the wrong side of the line from Madrid's point of view and away to safety. 


Vinicius lofts a ball into the area but it's hopeful more than anything and Unai says cheers very much. 


Real working it side to side now as the way is blocked through the middle. 


Rodrygo is dropping deep already in search of the ball, in the sort of territory Isco would usually be found in. Not a great sign for Zidane's tactical blueprint. 


Vinicius tries to take on four Athletic defenders himself and is bundled off the ball. It's been a decent start from the Brazilian. 


Athletic try a long ball forward but it's far too long for even Williams to chase down. 


Athletic find thelselves in all sorts of bother trying to play out from the back and Benzema and Vinicius combine to put the Brazilian through one on one. He hits the shot well enough but Unai makes a fine save! 


Modric again as he plays a cute ball through the middle for Vinicius but Unai is out like a whippet to smother the danger. Lively start from the Croatian, who finds himself in the unusual situation of playing for his place in the team. 


Modric releases Rodrygo with a lovely ball and the Brazilian gets there first but Iñígo Martínez puts in a fine challenge to win a throw for his side. 


Athletic looking to put a few passes together in midfield but it's all the way back to Unai Simón as Real's midfield close ranks. 


But Benzema is there to clear with his head and Dani García gets a talking to from the ref as he trips a breaking Kroos in midfield. 


Corner for Athletic... early chance for some aerial action. 


Madrid get their foot on the ball, knock it about a bit and Modric threads a lovely ball to Vinicius, who takes a touch and then fires well wide. 


Real Madrid pinned back at the moment as Athletic apply the press. 


We're off! 

Raúl García and Sergio Ramos share a handshake and hug as the formalities get underway. We'll see how long that lasts... 

Just about five minutes to go until kick off now. 

He seems to have got the hang of this one though. As long as Athletic oblige by keeping them there, you'll be fine Thibbers. 

Real Madrid players warming up by taking pot shots at Courtois. He hasn't saved one yet... mind games? 

Anyway, back to the now... about 20 minutes to go until kick-off at the Bernabéu. Teams out and warming up. Bit of a wind still in the capital after a blustery weekend but pretty mild and all in all not a bad night for a spot of the old fitba

Top scorer that same season? Racing Santander's Salva. 

We've just had a look at the first completed league table of the millennium from 1999-00. Top six? Depor (champions), Barça, Valencia, Zaragoza, Real Madrid, Alavés. Feel old? Us too. 

Iñaki is out to scope out the turf... 

Oh, there's a point. It's the last Liga game of the decade... happy, err, birthdecade (??) everyone! 

It's been a bit of a patchy season for Athletic so far, but the Lions had put together a run of three wins on the trot before losing to Betis and drawing with Eibar. A win this evening and Garitano's side will be level on points with Geta in sixth. 

Fore! According to OPTA, Real Madrid have taken 164 shots from outside the area this season, the second highest figure for clubs in the top five leagues after Napoli.

Fun fact: Raúl García has received a total of 15 cards against Real Madrid during his career, more than against any other club

And Athletic's - they were in midweek action as well, albeit in the Copa del Rey with a side leaning more towards the B than the A. 

Real Madrid's last five games - three wins and two draws, both in the last seven days... 

Here's a reminder of how things look at the top after the rest of this weekend's games. 

Pts MP W D L
1 39 18 12 3 3
2 36 17 10 6 1
3 34 18 10 4 4
4 32 18 8 8 2
5 31 18 9 4 5

Another milestone for Zinedine Zidane this evening. The Frenchman will oversee his 184th game as Real Madrid boss, in the process overtaking Leo Beenhakker as the coach to have taken charge of the third-highest number of matches at the club.

Here's Athletic's starting XI: Kodro will lead the line with Williams out on the left - that will be a key battle with Carvajal - while Raúl García will take up his usual position about three feet up Sergio Ramos' nose. 

No Athletic team yet, but Iñaki Williams will certainly be starting. We forget the exact number but it's around 180 consecutive Liga games for the striker now. Impressive stuff. And he'll fancy a run or two at Militao this evening. 

Zidane starting XI is in! Not too many surprises. Or none in fact. Casemiro is suspended hence Modric, Bale starts on the bench in deference to the Brazilian teenagers Vinicius and Rodrygo, Benzema will lead the line and Mendy covers for the injured Marcelo. Eder Militao comes in for Varane, with the Frenchman still nursing that Clásico knock. 

And, as ever, if you're wondering just where on God's good earth you can feast your eyes on this festive pre-prandial, we have the answer for you here.  

Real Madrid have a few injury issues going into this evening's game, while Athletic also have some important players missing. You can avail yourself of all the latest team news and a few plum facts ahead of the game courtesy of Will's carefully crafted analysis. 

Athletic, on the other hand, do not much enjoy their trips to Real's stadium. The last time the Lions were victorious in the Bernabéu was in 2005, and they have picked up a solitary point in 14 attempts since then. 


Leo Messi also reached another milestone against Alavés, 50 goals for the calendar year again, and his strike in Camp Nou took him to 13 for the season in LaLiga, one ahead of Karim Benzema. However, the Madrid striker does rather enjoy a agame against Athletic. 

That victory ensured that Barcelona ended 2019 unbeaten at home in LaLiga competition, a run of 18 games without tasting defeat. Madrid cannot boast the same record - Zinedine Zidane suffered a 2-0 home defeat against Betis on the final day of last season and before that came losses for Santiago Solari and Julen Lopetegui on home turf, but Madrid are unbeaten at the Bernabéu so far this season. 


Madrid will be looking to regain parity with Barcelona at the top of the table heading into the winter break after the current leaders brushed Alavés aside on Saturday. 

Hello and welcome to AS English's live coverage of the LaLiga week 18 match bewteen Real Madrid and Athletic Bilbao from the Santiago Bernabéu. Kick-off is at 21:00 CET.