Zidane draws little cheer from stalemate

BARCELONA (Reuters) - Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane was left feeling disappointed with his side’s 0-0 draw at eternal rivals Barcelona in La Liga after they failed to take their chances against the champions in Wednesday’s rescheduled ‘Clasico’.

Soccer Football - La Liga Santander - FC Barcelona v Real Madrid - Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain - December 18, 2019 Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane REUTERS/Sergio Perez

Real dominated the game but were unable to find the net as the match between Spain’s most successful sides finished goalless for the first time in 17 years.

“The result feels like very little because we deserved a lot more but football is often like that,” the Frenchman told reporters.

“If you create chances you have to score them and we weren’t able to do that. The team made a tremendous effort and when you play like that in this stadium you deserve more.”

Zidane had a clear game plan for the match at the Camp Nou and benched Luka Modric for the youthful and energetic Federico Valverde, with a view to breaking up Barca’s possession game and hitting them frequently on the counter-attack.

Midfielder Casemiro had an effort cleared off the line by Barca’s Gerard Pique in the first half and they had two penalty appeals turned down. Gareth Bale narrowly missed the target after the interval and had a goal ruled offside.

“We pressed them high up the pitch, we kept taking the ball off them and we did a really good job. We gave a great image of ourselves but we wanted more,” added Zidane, whose side are second in the standings, level on 36 points with leaders Barca.

“With the performance we put in we deserved to win, but that’s football. Sometimes you do everything right but it doesn’t come off. Sometimes you score two or three times, others you can’t score at all.”

Barca coach Ernesto Valverde recognised that his side struggled to cope with Real’s tactics.

“We weren’t able to overcome their pressure as much as we’d have liked and they caused us a few problems, we had a few chances but we lacked fluidity,” he said.

“We would have liked to have won the match because we were at home and under a little more pressure to win, but it was a very tough game. It’s very equal at the top of the table and I think it will stay that way until the end of the season.”

The match, which was postponed from its original date of Oct. 26 due to political instability in Catalonia, kicked off after a pro-Catalan independence protest near the Camp Nou which left 42 people injured.

The game was played in a fierce and politically charged atmosphere after a huge security operation but Zidane had no complaints.

“Everything went well, for Madrid, for Barca and for football,” he said. “The fans wanted to see a good match and they did.”

Valverde added: “Considering everything that was going on it felt like a normal match. It was a ‘Clasico’ and there will always be tension in these games.”

Reporting by Richard Martin, editing by Ed Osmond