Real Madrid enters winter break 2 points behind Barca
Published: 12:34 PM, 23 December 2019
Real Madrid finished the year with growing concerns over its attack and trailing Barcelona by two points as the Spanish league starts its winter break. The league resumes in the first week of January.
Zinedine Zidane will face questions about Madrid’s scoring slump after it was held 0-0 at home against Athletic Bilbao on Sunday. The slip at the Santiago Bernabeu came after drawing 1-1 at Valencia and 0-0 at Barcelona over the past week.
One goal in three matches is a paltry return for one of the richest clubs in the world.
Madrid dominated possession but the goalkeeping of Unai Simon, the woodwork, and the lack of a scoring touch saved Bilbao.
Toni Kroos, Nacho Fernandez, and Luka Jovic all sent shots off the goal-frame for the hosts.
Simon stopped Vinicius Junior in front of his goal after the young Brazilian had cut back around the final defender in the game’s first scoring opportunity in the 12th minute. Vinicius squandered two more opportunities, not cleanly connecting with Luka Modric’s cross before he failed to control a loose ball in the goalmouth.
Simon deflected Kroos point-blank effort in the 19th onto the crossbar after Bilbao’s passive backline had let him advance through the box. Simon also saved shots on goal from Karim Benzema.
Bilbao’s attack consisted of the rare long ball won by Inaki Williams or a quick counterattack. Williams had Bilbao’s only threat saved by Thibaut Courtois in the 20th.
Fernandez smashed a header off the crossbar in the 59th shortly after replacing Eder Militao, who injured his right eye. Late substitute Jovic headed off the base of the post with four minutes remaining.
Bilbao is in seventh place, immediately above Valencia.
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