Real Madrid-Athletic: Three posts and a third draw

Athletic had a terrible record at the Bernabéu, having picked up just a single point in the last 14 years. But yesterday they added another point to that, which in turn cost Real Madrid two.

A well-earned tie for Bilbao was the prize for their organisation and attention in defence, but Gaizka Garitano’s side also found fortune on the back of the unusual occurrence of Madrid hitting the woodwork on three separate occasions.

The first came from Toni Kroos, in an individual move that was the only time Madrid managed to carve open Athletic's defence; the second, a fiercely struck header from Nacho; and the third, a good header from Luka Jovic, who appeared at the end to assert his finishing ability. Those three let-offs, plus eight other saves by Athletic keeper Unai Simón, kept the scoreboard at 0-0.

Toni Kroos hits the post against Athletic Bilbao.

Modric Vinicius and Rodrygo

It was a prettier game in the first half than in the second, especially for the home side, with Luka Modric controlling things and Vinicius’ continuous rampage. Though the young Brazilian was lacklustre in the finish and hardly ever created any panic for the opponent’s defence.

That is where he differs from Rodrygo, who has a clearer view of the game but is much less daring – he does not challenge or attack the defence, nor create instability. He did, of course, put in two decent crosses for Benzema from a retreated and comfortable position – a little with the air of a wise veteran but that wasn’t much. Of course, both Brazilians are very young players to be expected to carry the Madrid attack.

Vinicius in action against Athletic's Yeray.

Madrid await Hazard’s return

It is the third consecutive draw for Madrid and again it was the result of the struggles to find the goal. Benzema does what he can – he has scored 12 league goals – but they need other players to add more in good quantity.

The loss of Hazard came at the worst moment, when the Belgian winger was beginning reach peak form. And now we’ll have to wait and see how long it takes for him to get back to his peak once he returns from injury.

It will certainly alleviate the situation, but the deficit is there and Hazard will be tasked with driving the team along and inspiring the rest to work harder – with the exception of Bale, of course.

The Welshman came on for Rodrygo with a face that looked like we owed him something, dropped two shots and was oblivious to everything around him. We already know the story there: Wales, Golf, Madrid…