Atlético were outshot 30-9 and had just a shade over 30 percent possession but still have not lost at the Santiago Bernabéu in LaLiga since 2012. After a testy first half in which Madrid twice hit woodwork, Cristiano swept home a wipeout cross from Gareth Bale to push los blancos in front. But Griezmann replied four minutes later as he stuck a clever Vitolo pass behind Keylor Navas. Both sides then had chances to win in a breathless final half hour, but great goalkeeping at either end kept the scores level.
This “Coke Zero” derby saw both teams make surprising changes to their respective lineups. Zinedine Zidane opted to put a few of his bigger names on the bench — Isco, Luka Modrić and Karim Benzema were dropped — and Bale started next to Cristiano in a 4-4-2. Diego Simeone matched Zidane after controversially playing Griezmann as a lone striker in the November derbi — this time, the Frenchman had Diego Costa next to him. Vitolo made just his third league start in red and white while Juanfran kept his starting place despite Šime Vrsaljko’s recovery from injury.
The hosts steadily worked themselves into the match after a fairly even beginning. Marco Asensio smashed a shot off the post following a penalty appeal for a Juanfran-Toni Kroos collision in the box. Jan Oblak made key saves on Cristiano and Raphaël Varane inside the first half an hour to keep the game goalless while Atlético retreated, trying to soak up pressure and slow things down where possible. Atleti were able to jog into the dressing room at 0-0 despite being outshot 15-4.
Eight minutes into the second half, that 0-0 would become 1-0 for Zidane’s men. Bale found space down the left and hit a lovely cross that took out Lucas Hernández and supplied Cristiano with the service he had been denied in the first half. He slotted his 23rd goal of the season, just reward for his side’s control of the match.
That goal was the wake-up jolt Atlético needed. Griezmann scored at the Bernabéu for the third year running by finishing a quick one-two with Vitolo, who teed him up in front of the goal. Atleti’s superstar forward peeled away in celebration as the ball bounced past Navas, proudly displaying his new Fortnite-inspired “Take the L” celebration.
Koke had a golden opportunity to put los colchoneros 2-1 up moments later, but Navas made a brilliant save to deny him. Oblak would follow suit at the other end as the game really opened up and both managers went for the win. Zidane surprisingly removed Cristiano Ronaldo just after the hour and sought to regain control of midfield with Isco and Modrić, while Simeone effectively replaced Costa with Kévin Gameiro. Sergio Ramos very nearly won the match in stoppage time, but saw a free kick parried away by Oblak and a header from the ensuing corner flash wide.
Real Madrid: Navas; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo; Kovačić (Modrić 72’), Kroos, Vázquez, Asensio (Isco 72’); Cristiano (Benzema 63’), Bale.
Goals: Cristiano 53’
Atlético Madrid: Oblak; Juanfran, Savić, Godín, Lucas; Saúl, Thomas (Gameiro 82’), Vitolo (Correa 60’), Koke; Griezmann, Costa (Gabi 71’)
Goals: Griezmann 57’