Real Madrid was 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 was 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 it kicked off on the snowy pitch at the El Sadar Stadium.
The closest it came to finding a breakthrough was when Karim Benzema had two goals ruled out for offside in the second half, while it was fortunate not to concede to an Osasuna side which got its tactics spot on.
The draw kept the champion second in the standings on 37 points, one behind leader Atletico Madrid, whose game against Athletic Bilbao was postponed due to the snowstorm, leaving it with three games in hand. Osasuna stays 19th.
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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, which was happy to sit back and defend deep to afford their visiting team 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, which had lost six of its previous 10 league games and has 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.