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Match Analysis: Sporting Gijon 0-0 Real Madrid

Sports Mole dissects the 90 minutes of action as Sporting Gijon hold Real Madrid to a goalless draw in La Liga.

Sporting Gijon held Real Madrid to a goalless draw in their La Liga clash at the Estadio Municipal El Molinon on Sunday.

Los Blancos had the majority of the chances against the newly-promoted hosts, but could not make the breakthrough as they dropped two points on the opening weekend of the season.

Here, Sports Mole has dissected the 90 minutes of action between the two teams.

Match statistics

SPORTING GIJON
Shots: 6
On target: 0
Possession: 36%
Corners: 2
Fouls: 20

REAL MADRID
Shots: 27
On target: 8
Possession: 64%
Corners: 5
Fouls: 4

Was the result fair?

Statistics rarely paint a false picture in football and the fact that Real Madrid dominated all of the major areas is an indication that they were desperately unlucky not to claim all three points. While that is a strong argument, Sporting Gijon actually had the game's best chance, with Miguel Guerrero's header smashing the crossbar before bouncing down onto the line in the first period. Sporting did not actually register a single shot on target against Los Blancos, but they did cause problems in the final third and will argue that their defensive display deserved to see them share the spoils on the night.

Looking at it from Real Madrid's point of view, however, they were really unlucky not to secure the points. Rafael Benitez's side had 27 attempts on the home side's goal - eight of which were on target. Ivan Cuellar had an excellent night between the sticks for the hosts, while Benitez will also feel that his team should have had a penalty in the first period. As play developed, Los Blancos were the team that were pushing for the winner, but there was a general lack of quality in the final third. It would not have been unjust had Real Madrid claimed all three points, but when taking into account the work that Sporting Gijon put in and just how much they were up against it, a share of the spoils was quite possibly deserved.

Sporting Gijon's performance

While there have been serious changes at a number of La Liga clubs this summer, Abelardo Fernandez only selected one player in his starting XI that was not with the club last season. Antonio Sanabria, who joined on loan from Roma, was given a start, but those that secured promotion last season were given the chance on the opening weekend of the season. Sporting had to wait until the 36th minute for their first serious chance of the match, and it almost brought a goal. Guerrero's header seemed to be heading for the top corner, but it smashed the crossbar before bouncing onto the line. It is true that the hosts had to survive a couple of dangerous moments in the first half, but they largely restricted Real Madrid to few clear opportunities and got through the first period without conceding, which was so important. The tempo of their play did drop in the second 45 minutes, but from a defensive aspect, it was a wonderful performance from the hosts.

Carlos Carmona had Sporting's second golden chance of the match early in the second period, but the Spaniard could only head wide from close range under little pressure. Alberto Lora's work in a wide area was a constant feature of the home side's play as the match developed, but each member of their back four were also excellent. Cristiano Ronaldo had three clear opportunities in the second period, but as mentioned, Sporting goalkeeper Cuellar was in wonderful form. As expected, the hosts were forced to retreat as the pressure grew in the final minutes, but it was not as if they were holding on, which perhaps should have been the case from Real Madrid's point of view. On the face of it, it is only one point and it will still be a tough season for the newly-promoted outfit, but they have shown that they can compete at this level.

Real Madrid's performance

There was just one new face in the Real Madrid XI, with Benitez selecting Danilo at right-back ahead of Dani Carvajal. Further forward, Gareth Bale, as expected, played in the number 10 position, with Isco and Ronaldo either side of Jese Rodriguez, who started due to Karim Benzema's absence. It took until the 11th minute for the visitors to seriously threaten, but after rounding Cuellar, Bale could not find the back of the net from a difficult angle. Isco and Ronaldo also had shooting chances in what was an open first 45 minutes, but neither could convert. As mentioned, the visitors were also a touch fortunate not to concede from Guerrero's header, which on first glance looked to have bounced over the line. Benitez would not have been overly concerned at the break, however, with 45 minutes of football still to come.

The statistics show that Real Madrid had 27 attempts, but the majority of those strikes were from distance and of little worry to the home side's goalkeeper. That is not to say that Cuellar did not make some excellent saves in the second period, but most of their attempts were from outside the box, which should always favour the goalkeeper. Aside from a couple of nervy moments, Real Madrid looked nice and solid at the back and indeed in midfield, but the challenge for Benitez is to make things happen in the final third of the field. Jese struggled to get into the match and was eventually replaced and while Ronaldo and Bale were both heavily involved, neither can be totally pleased with their performance. It is still very early days, but dropping points in this particular match is not what Benitez would have had in mind. Neither Barcelona nor Atletico Madrid played particularly well in their season openers, but both picked up all three points.

Sports Mole's man of the match

Ivan Cuellar: In truth, there are a number of Sporting players that deserve this award, but their goalkeeper Cuellar was under pressure on a whole host of occasions in the second period and managed to keep his clean sheet intact. The 31-year-old's star moment came when he tipped a stinging Ronaldo effort over the crossbar, while he was excellent from high balls, especially in the second period. The former Atletico Madrid stopper can be delighted with his display against Los Blancos.

Biggest gaffe

It is difficult to actually pinpoint one specific moment in the match, but Real Madrid's finishing in general was really disappointing. Ronaldo missed a couple of excellent chances in the second period and there seemed to be a lack of composure from the visitors, which was a surprise considering just how many goals they scored last season.

Referee performance

Overall, referee Javier Estrada had a solid night. The Spaniard issued just the four yellow cards and was more than prepared to let the game flow when possible. Real Madrid, however, will definitely feel that they should have had a penalty in the first period when Ronaldo was tugged to the ground by Sergio Alvarez.

What next?

Sporting Gijon: The newly-promoted outfit will travel to Real Sociedad in the league next Saturday.

Real Madrid: Los Blancos, meanwhile, will welcome Real Betis to the Bernabeu next Saturday.

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Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid looks on after taking a fall during the La Liga match between Club Atletico de Madrid and Real Madrid on February 7, 2015
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