Real Madrid rounded their victorious La Liga campaign off with a not-so-memorable 0-0 draw with Real Betis on Friday night.
The draw, that sees the Spanish champions reach 86 points for the season while making sure that Manuel Pellegrini’s side misses out on a top-four finish, was largely forgettable but did tease entertainment value in bursts.
While the first half had its moments of excitement, it wasn’t the fast-paced, ruthless affair that a double guard of honour for two of Spain’s most thrilling teams suggested as the players walked out onto the field.
Carlo Ancelotti’s men held the upper hand throughout the early exchanges although both sides threatened the breakthrough as the game occasionally developed a frenetic, end-to-end edge.
Karim Benzema, Toni Kroos and Casemiro all went close for the hosts while Juanmi made a nuisance of himself on the visitors’ behalf, but neither side managed to find the back of the net in what was an opening period of ‘almosts’ and ‘not-quites’.
Los Blancos reassumed overarching control of the game after the resumption of play and produced the most threatening effort on goal six minutes into the half. Benzema, however, snapped his half volley too close to Real Betis goalkeeper Rui Silva after connecting perfectly with Dani Carvajal’s cross.
A severe lull in proceedings saw a decrease in any urgency and tempo, with the match adopting a classic end-of-season feel and neither goalkeeper being called into notable action subsequent to Benzema’s early second-half effort.
With neither side pressing too hard for the elusive opener, the referee’s whistle brought an end to proceedings at 0-0, giving Real Madrid a comfortable enough preparatory clash before next weekend’s Champions League final in Paris, and confirming Real Betis’ place in next season’s Europa League.
Here’s how the hosts rated on the night…
GK: Thibaut Courtois – 7/10 – Typically solid between the sticks and distributed possession brilliantly at times.
RB: Dani Carvajal – 7/10 – Resolute on the back foot and started to venture forward more after the break, causing problems as he did so.
CB: Eder Militao – 8/10 – Imposing figure at the heart of defence, showing good pace on the cover and proving a dominant presence in the air. Really strong performance.
CB: Nacho Fernandez – 6/10 – Not called into action all that much but characteristically reliable when he was.
LB: Ferland Mendy – 6/10 – Fared well defensively, managing three ball recoveries, and looked threatening when he surged forward – but did so too irregularly to make a true impact.
DM: Casemiro – 6/10 – Had a decent first half but was hooked off at the break, having looked a little physically uncomfortable at times.
CM: Luka Modric – 8/10 – Neat, tidy and precise throughout what was a silky display seasoned with illustrations of his masterful quality.
CM: Toni Kroos – 7/10 – Spread some lovely passes around the field and managed three key passes before coming off at the interval, presumably for precautionary reasons.
RW: Rodrygo – 6/10 – Really bright but couldn’t produce anything tangible to add to his impressive goal-scoring form.
ST: Karim Benzema – 6/10 – Lively performance from the talisman, going very close to scoring on several occasions, but his efforts proved fruitless.
LW: Vinicius Junior – 6/10 – Enjoyed some really dangerously piercing moments on the ball but couldn’t translate them into anything decisive.
SUB: Eduardo Camavinga (46′ for Casemiro) – 8/10 – Starting to look more and more comfortable when that sacrosanct midfield is broken up and he’s given the chance to step in. Intelligent, composed, resilient, ostentatious and progressive – an impressive, all-round second-half cameo from the teenager.
SUB: Federico Valverde (46′ for Kroos) – 6/10 – A sound display but completely overshadowed by his fellow half-time substitute.
SUB: Marcelo (70′ for Mendy) – 6/10 – An emotional goodbye to a club for whom he has been a phenomenal and much-loved servant.
SUB: Isco (70′ for Rodrygo) – 6/10 – A less emotional, but heartfelt nonetheless, farewell.
SUB: Dani Ceballos (70′ for Modric) – 6/10 – Linked with a move to Betis this summer, the midfielder didn’t do too badly in his audition.