Zinedine Zidane has said Real Madrid "deserved to win" the first Clasico of the season after his team settled for a 0-0 draw having dominated Barcelona for much of their visit to the Camp Nou on Wednesday.
Real manager Zidane, 47, tactically outmanoeuvred Barcelona counterpart Ernesto Valverde for the most part, and he told reporters after the game his players deserved more:
“The result feels like very little because we deserved a lot more, but football is often like that. 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.
“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.
“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.”
Three Barcelona players were cautioned during a tense first half for the hosts, though they grew into the second period when five Real players received yellow cards:
Karim Benzema hit the frame of the goal in the second half, while Real ended the match with 17 shots to Barca's nine, per WhoScored.com. Only four of Real's efforts hit the target, though that's still double the amount of times Barca managed to test Thibaut Courtois.
Los Blancos were also denied a strong penalty appeal on Raphael Varane, whose French compatriot Clement Lenglet was fortunate to not give away a spot-kick, per Marca (h/t The Spanish Football Podcast):
A draw and a clean sheet still puts Real in good shape to win La Liga provided they can edge the reverse fixture, with Barcelona scheduled to visit the Santiago Bernabeu on the weekend of February 29.
Real would gain the head-to-head advantage over their bitter rivals should they win that clash and go on to finish level on points, though Barca have won in each of their last five competitive trips to the Bernabeu.
Spanish football author Colin Millar highlighted Zidane's imperious record as a manager at the Camp Nou:
The two teams remain level on points at the summit of La Liga heading into the winter break, with both teams approaching their final fixtures of the calendar year in Week 18.
Barcelona have an opportunity to temporarily move back in front when they host Alaves on Saturday, while Real are also at home when they welcome Athletic Bilbao to the Bernabeu on Sunday.