Real Madrid 0-0 Cadiz: Title rivals gain boost as Los Blancos are held
Real Madrid were held to a 0-0 draw by lowly Cadiz on Sunday in a result that will provide a boost to those hoping to challenge Los Blancos for the LaLiga title.
Carlo Ancelotti's men were hoping to extend their winning run in the top flight to eight matches but failed to make the most of their dominance at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Their first-half performance was especially disappointing as Madrid arguably only created one clear-cut opportunity.
They were more dangerous after the interval but still could not break the deadlock and nearly saw Madrid youth product Alvaro Negredo steal a late winner for the 19th-placed visitors.
Madrid showed promise early on as Karim Benzema released Vinicius Junior into the left side of the area only for his eventual shot to be deflected behind by Juan Cala.
Otherwise, Los Blancos did not pose much of a threat to Jeremias Ledesma's goal until the second half, when he was forced into a fine save by Eden Hazard's delicate header.
Vinicius was the next to test Ledesma just before the hour, cutting inside Carlos Akapo and drilling straight at the goalkeeper from 16 yards.
Thibaut Courtois was helpless at the other end 15 minutes from time as Cadiz countered and saw Negredo shoot towards the bottom-right corner, only for the effort to be dragged agonisingly wide.
Madrid subsequently piled the pressure on, with Benzema going close twice and Toni Kroos having a strike blocked, but Cadiz left the capital with at least a point for the second successive season.
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There is no doubt Madrid were the dominant force here – their 36 shots equated to 2.8 expected goals – but their finishing was wasteful and Cadiz defended valiantly.
In fact, Cadiz's 14 blocks in this game were at least five more than any other team have made in a single LaLiga match this season.
On another day, Madrid would have won this comfortably. Thankfully for Ancelotti, even if Sevilla were to match Los Blancos' results and then win their game in hand, his team will still have a three-point lead at the summit.
Akapo gets in the way
Vinicius in particular made life difficult for Akapo, with the Brazilian's trickery so hard to defend against. But the Cadiz man routinely put his body on the line, making more blocks (four) than anyone else. Similarly, his seven clearances were second only to Cala, as the visitors' defence fought for their lives.
If anyone deserved to be on the winning side for Madrid, it was Kroos. The Germany star's use of the ball in the final third was exceptional as he played nine key passes, more than any other player in a sole LaLiga match in 2021-22.
A tricky test awaits Madrid on Wednesday as they go to Athletic Bilbao, who have the second-most miserly defence in LaLiga this season. Cadiz are now not in action again until after New Year when they welcome Andalusian rivals Sevilla.