Real Madrid were held to a goalless draw at struggling Osasuna on Saturday, failing to overcome the unforgiving conditions amid persistent snow and passing up the chance to go clear at the top of La Liga.
Zinedine Zidane’s side were held up on the runway in Madrid for four hours the day before the game due to the snowstorm that pummelled Spain and things did not get any easier for them when they kicked off on the snowy pitch at the El Sadar Stadium.
The closest they came to finding a breakthrough was when Karim Benzema had two goals ruled out for offside in the second half, while they were fortunate not to concede to an Osasuna side who got their tactics spot on.
The draw kept the champions second in the standings on 37 points, one behind leaders Atletico Madrid, whose game against Athletic Bilbao was postponed due to the snowstorm, leaving them with three games in hand. Osasuna stay 19th.
Real midfielder Toni Kroos said his side should have done better, even withstanding the tough conditions.
“We created very few chances, a team of our quality needs to create more, even when the pitch is difficult to play on like it was today. We knew that our opponents were going to defend like they did,” he said.
“The pitch is no excuse, both sides had to play on this pitch. We can’t be happy with the result because we’re fighting to be top of the league and this draw doesn’t help us.”
A team of 50 workers laboured throughout the day to make the pitch playable and clear it of the snow that covered the city of Pamplona and continued to fall during the match.
But the conditions inevitably favoured Osasuna, who were happy to sit back and defend deep to afford their visitors as little space as possible.
The plan worked as Madrid failed to have a shot on target in the first half for the first time this season in the league.
Osasuna, who had lost six of their previous 10 league games and have not won a match since October, had the best chance to score in the first half when defender Oier got on the end of a cross from a corner. However, Thibaut Courtois threw up a hand to keep the ball out.
Madrid’s only attempt on target came early in the second half when Marco Asensio let fly from outside the box but Osasuna keeper Sergio Herrera got across to make the save.
Messi, Griezmann show as Barca outclass Granada
Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann each scored twice as Barcelona thrashed Granada 4-0 away to win a third consecutive La Liga game for the first time this season.
Griezmann opened the scoring in the 12th minute while Messi struck twice before the break to make it four goals in his last two matches and go top of the league’s scoring charts with 11 goals.
French forward Griezmann scored a classy second goal after halftime while things got worse for Granada when Jesus Vallejo was sent off in the 78th minute for clattering into Barca substitute Martin Braithwaite.
The victory took Barca back into third place in the standings with 34 points, closing the gap with leaders Atletico Madrid to four points.
However, Atletico, whose game with Athletic Bilbao was postponed due to heavy snow in the Spanish capital, have three matches in hand.
“This is an important win, we knew we were in a difficult situation and couldn’t afford to lose any more games and it’s been a very good week for us, winning three games, all away from home, and while playing some very good football,” said Barca coach Ronald Koeman.
“We showed that the team is growing in quality and in confidence. I’m very pleased that we scored four goals and we need to keep playing like we did today, when we only needed a few chances to score.”
Barca had produced one of their best displays under Koeman in Wednesday’s 3-2 win at Athletic Bilbao but have tended to struggle for consistency this campaign, in particular away from home.
But the resounding victory sealed an elusive third win in a row, beginning with a 1-0 victory away to Huesca last Sunday.
Griezmann got them off to a strong start when he stuck out his leg to prod the ball home when a deflection from Granada’s Roberto Soldado fell into his path and played him onside.
The Frenchman then went on a marauding run through the middle to tee up Messi, who lashed into the top corner in the 35th minute.
The Argentine struck again shortly before halftime, arrowing low into the net from a freekick and then enjoyed a rare rest when Koeman removed him for Braithwaite midway through the second half.
Griezmann, who before the game had failed to score in the league since the end of November, showed his soaring confidence with his brilliant second goal.
He controlled a cross from Ousmane Dembele with his left foot then using his other foot to find the far bottom corner from a tight angle with his right.
“Before I could barely score one goal but right now it looks like things are going pretty well,” the forward said.
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