Real Madrid 0-0 Real Betis: Zidane's men suffer setback in title race

By Sports Desk April 24, 2021

Real Madrid suffered another setback in the title race as they were held to a 0-0 draw at home to Real Betis in LaLiga on Saturday.

Zinedine Zidane's men would have gone top – ahead of Atletico Madrid due to a better head-to-head record – at least until Sunday had they beaten Betis, but their inability to find a way past Claudio Bravo means they could end the weekend five points behind the leaders.

The contest did not truly come to life until the second half and Madrid could easily have found themselves trailing, with Guido Rodriguez and Borja Iglesias guilty of wasting great chances.

Opportunities of a similar quality were by no means a regular occurrence for Madrid, who will hoping Athletic Bilbao can do them a favour against Atletico on Sunday, with the four-way Spanish title race looking set for a thrilling conclusion.

Madrid got very little out of Betis in what was a largely cagey first half that saw only one shot on target.

That chance fell to Karim Benzema in the 25th minute, as the Frenchman had his effort turned around the post by Bravo.

Former Madrid youngster Sergio Canales went close at the other end soon after, narrowly missing the left-hand post with a 20-yard effort.

The hosts almost got lucky nine minutes into the second half as Rodrygo's cross hit the crossbar with Bravo seemingly beaten.

Though they should have found themselves trailing a few moments later.

Rodriguez did the hard part as he raced past Eder Militao and Raphael Varane, but upon penetrating the penalty area he hit a scuffed left-footed shot straight at the relieved Thibaut Courtois.

Iglesias then spurned an even better opportunity on the break, Courtois blocking the ball as the striker attempted to prod it past him after Canales' pinpoint cross.

Much like Rodriguez, Vinicius Junior failed to apply the decisive finish after a brilliant run of his own, following it up with a feeble effort that caused Bravo no worries.

Related items

  • Haaland ultimatum is 'total b***s***', claims Watzke Haaland ultimatum is 'total b***s***', claims Watzke

    Hans-Joachim Watzke has slammed the suggestion that Borussia Dortmund have issued Erling Haaland an ultimatum over his future as "total b***s***".

    Haaland, who joined Dortmund in January 2020 from Austrian club Salzburg, is one of the most sought-after talents in European football.

    Since the Norway forward made his Dortmund debut just over two years ago, he has netted 79 goals in all competitions.

    He marked his two-year anniversary with a goal on Tuesday, though Dortmund nevertheless suffered a shock 2-1 defeat to St Pauli in the DFB-Pokal.

    It means that, for the first time since 2006-07, neither Dortmund nor Bayern Munich will contend in the DFB-Pokal quarter-finals, while none of the winners from across the previous 26 years are left in this season's competition.

    That defeat followed on from an emphatic Bundesliga win over Freiburg on Friday, though it was after that match that Haaland commented on his future.

    The 21-year-old claimed Dortmund had been pressuring to make a decision on his next move, and that he would soon make a call on whether he will look to leave the club at the end of the season. 

    However, Dortmund chief executive Watzke, who did over the weekend acknowledge they had stressed the importance of Haaland making a decision soon to the striker, has insisted the club have not made any ultimatum.

    "Some in the media write that BVB would give him an ultimatum, which is total bullshit," he told ARD.

    "Dortmund didn't put the gun on his chest."

    Asked if Dortmund had been unsettled by Haaland's comments, Watzke added: "Erling was obviously a bit bothered by it, but we can't influence that. We told him that too."

    Since his Dortmund bow, only Robert Lewandowski (107) has scored more goals than Haaland across all competitions, of players in Europe's top five leagues.

    Haaland averages a goal every 80 minutes, while his tally has come from an expected goals (xG) of 63, suggesting his finishing has been way above the standard that would be expected given the quality of chances that have been created for him.

    As for big chances – which Opta define as an opportunity from which a player would reasonably be expected to score – Haaland has been presented with 110 and converted 65 of them.

    That equals a conversion rate of 59.1 per cent, which is better than eight of the top 10 goalscorers across Europe's top five leagues in that time, with Manchester United's Bruno Fernandes, who has netted 32 of his 49 big chances (65.3 per cent) having a better conversion rate.

  • No fans allowed for Reggae Boyz upcoming home matches against Mexico, Costa Rica No fans allowed for Reggae Boyz upcoming home matches against Mexico, Costa Rica

    Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz will once again be without fans for upcoming home World Cup qualifiers against Mexico and Costa Rica as the government looks to put measures in place to combat the recent spike in coronavirus cases.

    The country has played the majority of its matches behind closed doors, so far, with the lone exception being its last match against the United States, which allowed for 5000 vaccinated spectators to be present.

    With 15 more COVID deaths, 1,548 new cases, and a positivity rate of 51.5 percent, as of Tuesday, however, the Government has decided to return to closed-door measures.  The Reggae Boyz have been the only team in the octagonal round that has been affected so severely by coronavirus restrictions, with many other teams sticking to the practice of limiting the numbers of fans allowed at the venues.

    Jamaica, however, has the lowest vaccination rate of all the countries participating in the qualifiers with just 557,000 persons fully vaccinated, representing just 20.4 percent of the population.

    The Reggae Boyz will be hoping to make a late run to book a place at this year’s FIFA World Cup having found themselves well off the pace midway through the qualifiers.  The team is currently 6th in the standings on 7 points, seven short of the final qualification spot.  The team will kick off the next round with a match against Mexico on January 27th, followed by a trip to Panama three days later and a home fixture against Costa Rica on January 30.

  • Australian Open: Osaka eases through to set up Anisimova clash Australian Open: Osaka eases through to set up Anisimova clash

    Naomi Osaka will face Amanda Anisimova in round three of the Australian Open after easing past Madison Brengle on Wednesday.

    The two-time champion in Melbourne won 6-0 6-4 to set up a meeting with the 20-year-old American, who earlier upset Olympic gold medallist Belinda Bencic in straight sets.

    Despite a second-set wobble on serve that gave Brengle hope of a comeback, Osaka looked in comfortable control of the contest and has now dropped just one set in her five matches in 2022.

    Brengle was a 6-2 6-2 winner in the only previous meeting in Rock Hill way back in 2013, when Osaka had just turned 16 and had barely any Tour experience. Against the Osaka of 2022, a four-time major champion, she had few answers.

    Osaka tore through Brengle's defence in the opening set, wrapping it up in 20 minutes while dropping just three points on serve.

    Brengle was credited with just one winner in her chaotic first-round match with Dayana Yastremska, who retired trailing 6-1 0-6 0-5. It was not until the second game of the second set that Brengle matched that tally, but it was worth the wait: a brutal inside-out backhand across court, celebrated with gusto, as she began to make inroads on the Osaka serve.

    Osaka dug deep, saving three break points before holding for 2-1 and then another with a timely ace in her next service game. Her play was becoming erratic, though, and after saving a further three break points at 3-3, a wild overhead handed Brengle the breakthrough.

    Yet if the 31-year-old thought then that the match was just getting started, it was suddenly over. Osaka broke back immediately with a backhand volley at the net and did not lose another point from there, clinching the contest when Brengle's passing shot dropped wide.

    DATA SLAM: Osaka into overdrive

    Brengle quadrupled her winner count from her first-round match, but the world number 54 was simply outgunned by Osaka when it came to rallies.

    The Japanese star fired in 37 winners to 32 unforced errors, turning on the power just when it seemed like the contest was balancing out.

    WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
    Brengle – 4/14
    Osaka – 37/32

    ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
    Brengle – 0/1
    Osaka – 8/1

    BREAK POINTS WON
    Brengle – 1/10
    Osaka – 5/7

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.