Real Madrid and Villarreal both enjoyed lengthy periods of dominance but failed to make their chances pay in a 0-0 draw on Saturday.
Samu Chukwueze gave Real a scare early on, burning past five players and sending in a teasing cross that only narrowly evaded a teammate in the box.
Arnaut Danjuma then saw an effort cannon back off the post, with Villarreal causing Real some major problems early on. Chukwueze was particularly impressive, offering the sort of attacking spark that Real were sorely lacking in the first half.
It took Real 42 minutes to make a real chance. Gareth Bale ran onto a through ball and did his best to chip Geronimo Rulli, but the Villarreal stopper made himself big and got his body in the way of the shot to keep the score tied at the break.
Real did their best to take control of the game in the second half and they nearly did so through Bale, who cut in from the right and unleashed a powerful effort which was tipped onto the bar by Rulli, who was up to make an excellent save to deny Vinicius Junior almost immediately after.
Most of the fun came in injury time. Thibaut Courtois had to get down low to deny Pervis Estupinan, before Luka Jovic went down the other end and hit the crossbar with a glorious lob, from which Nacho Fernandez saw the rebound cleared off the line.
Here’s how the Real players got on.
Courtois had a solid game / JOSE JORDAN/GettyImages
Thibaut Courtois (GK) – 7/10 – Under a lot of pressure but never really looked like conceding a goal.
Dani Carvajal (RB) – 3/10 – Burned by Pedraza all too often. Inexplicably booted the ball at Lo Celso’s head when he was down on the ground.
Eder Militao (CB) – 7/10 – Needed to bail his team out time and time again. Lucky he’s enjoying the best season of his career.
David Alaba (CB) – 5/10 – Had a very tough game up against Chukwueze. Didn’t always come out on top.
Marcelo (LB) – 1/10 – Chukwueze will be in his nightmares. Absolutely torched for the entire first half. Some woeful passing after the break nearly gave away a handful of goals.
Kroos did well in the second half / Quality Sport Images/GettyImages
Casemiro (DM) – 6/10 – Made a lot of nice recovery challenges but really struggled against Villarreal’s press.
Toni Kroos (CM) – 6/10 – Wasn’t given the time or space to pull the strings in the first half but rediscovered his composure in the second half.
Federico Valverde (CM) – 6/10 – Really poor in the first 45 but one of the better performers in the second. Pressed with more energy and intensity.
Bale made his long-awaited return / Quality Sport Images/GettyImages
Marco Asensio (RW) – 3/10 – Couldn’t get in the game at all. Never looked like threatening. A little fortunate to avoid a red card for a high challenge.
Gareth Bale (ST) – 5/10 – A quiet first half but a big threat in the second. Should have done better with one of a handful of efforts before being replaced with 15 minutes to go.
Vinicius Junior (LW) – 5/10 – Got himself in two different fights in the first half. Clearly tried hard but evidently frustrated when things weren’t going his way.
Jovic was the first change / Anadolu Agency/GettyImages
Luka Jovic (ST) – 5/10
Luka Modric (CM) – 6/10
Rodrygo (RW) – 5/10
Eden Hazard (LW) – N/A
Nacho Fernandez (LB) – N/A
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