MADRID -- Real Madrid were held to a 0-0 draw by Real Sociedad at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday to fall five points behind leaders Barcelona at the top of LaLiga.
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Madrid dominated the first half but were unable to convert that superiority into goals. Vinicius Junior shot wide early on, and was denied by keeper Alex Remiro when through on goal before half-time. After the break, Vinicius and Rodrygo both went close -- Remiro saving from Vinicius once again -- as Madrid had to settle for a point.
JUMP TO: Best/worst performers | Highlights and notable moments | Postmatch quotes | Key stats | Upcoming fixtures
1. Madrid's Brazilian players unable to find finishing touch
With Karim Benzema not quite at his best, Vinicius and Rodrygo share the goal-scoring responsibility for Real Madrid. They were a constant menace to the La Real defence on Sunday, with all of Madrid's best attacking moments coming from one or the other.
Rodrygo's confidence is sky high after his goal-of-the-season contender in Thursday's Madrid derbi, and he carried that form into this game. He was the best player on the pitch in the first half and continued to pose a threat in the second, denied a goal only by a flying block from defender Igor Zubeldia.
Vinicius didn't make the most of the situations he created for himself. He shot wide after nutmegging Zubeldia in the first half and was unable to find a clinical finish when one-on-one with Remiro. More chances came his way later, with Remiro standing tall to claw away Vini's attempted scoop over the keeper.
In the end, neither player was able to find a way past Remiro, but it wasn't for lack of trying.
2. Camavinga, Ceballos seize their chances
A combination of a full-back injury crisis -- with Dani Carvajal, Ferland Mendy, Lucas Vazquez and David Alaba all unavailable -- and a midseason slump in form from midfielders Toni Kroos and Luka Modric has handed Eduardo Camavinga and Dani Ceballos a priceless opportunity this month to show how much they can contribute to this Real Madrid team.
Camavinga was picked here at left-back after impressing in the position when Mendy went off hurt against Atletico Madrid. It's unlikely to be his long-term role -- his qualities as a dynamic box-to-box midfielder are all too evident -- but on this limited evidence, the France international looks like a useful emergency option, especially when able to get forward.
Meanwhile Ceballos has never felt this much like a Real Madrid player. Five and a half years since he joined from Real Betis, he is finally getting a run of games in midfield and looks to be relishing every minute. After coming off the bench to win Madrid's Copa del Rey tie at Villarreal on Jan. 19, he started against Athletic Club a week ago, shone off the bench against Atletico, and was a constant, busy midfield presence here.
You still wonder if Ceballos has what it takes to start for Madrid every week, but he couldn't have made a better case for a contract renewal, with his current deal due to expire this summer.
3. La Real show third place in LaLiga is no fluke
Real Sociedad have been one of the stories of the season in LaLiga -- unquestionably the third-best side in the division behind Barcelona and Madrid -- and here they showed they are more than capable of competing with the big two.
In fact, La Real could have come away with all three points if centre-forward Alexander Sorloth had taken two presentable chances that fell his way, one in each half. His is a position that ought to be strengthened if the Basque team are to step up another level and make a habit of challenging Barca and Madrid.
Such is the strength of this squad elsewhere -- packed full of homegrown players -- that the team could cope with subpar performances from two of its best, Mikel Oyarzabal and Brais Mendez. This was an evening where none of La Real's forward players really shone -- perhaps their best was Takefusa Kubo, formerly of Madrid -- and it was their resolute defence that impressed.
Zubeldia and Robin Le Normand were outstanding at centre-back, and the often-inconsistent Remiro kept them in the game with some crucial saves. La Real are known for an attack-minded brand of football, but here they showed a different side to their game and deservedly left the Bernabeu with a point.
Best and worst performers
BEST: Dani Ceballos, Real Madrid. Impressed again. On this form, you couldn't argue with the club deciding to offer him a new contract.
BEST: Vinicius Junior, Real Madrid. Looked dangerous time and time again, but lacked the finishing touch.
BEST: Alex Remiro, Real Sociedad. Made two big saves from Vinicius, one in each half.
WORST: Mikel Oyarzabal, Real Sociedad. Still feeling his way back from a long-term injury, he had a very quiet night.
WORST: Brais Mendez, Real Sociedad. The biggest impression he made was a bad challenge on Ceballos.
WORST: Aihen Munoz, Real Sociedad. Had a hard time up against Madrid's forward line and was substituted at half-time.
Highlights and notable moments
Vinicius had the magic, but the finish wasn't quite there on this night.
What a display this is, @vinijr!! 🤩 pic.twitter.com/Cl0lEmh0ac— LaLigaTV (@LaLigaTV) January 29, 2023
After the match: What the players/managers said
Nacho: "It was a good game, very intense. We had the better chances and we didn't take them, the draw is a shame. ... Remiro and La Real are having a great season. We did a good job but [the draw] leaves us with a bad taste. ... When you have clear chances and you miss them ... It's a long season, we have to keep going."
Remiro: "[Manager] Imanol [Alguacil] gets the best out of us. It isn't coincidence. ... He knows how to get it right."
Key stats (provided by ESPN Stats & Information research)
- Real Madrid were the last team in Europe's Big Five leagues to have scored in all of their matches this season in all competitions.
- Real Sociedad now have 15 clean sheets in all competitions, only Barcelona (16) have more among LaLiga teams.
Real Madrid: Madrid welcome Valencia to the Bernabeu on Thursday in LaLiga play (3 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+).
Real Sociedad: La Real will get an extra few days' rest, hosting Real Valladolid on Sunday in league play (12:30 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)