Real Madrid missed the chance to move top of La Liga on Saturday as they drew 0-0 at home against Real Betis.
Zinedine Zidane’s depleted champions, placed second, looked tired at the Alfredo di Stefano stadium as they climbed to 71 points from 33 games, one match more than leaders Atletico Madrid and two points fewer, DPA reports.
A dull first half gave way to a better second, with Rodrygo Goes hitting the crossbar and Eden Hazard adding spark off the bench on his return from injury, but Madrid didn’t have enough in the tank to win.
Borja Iglesias might have struck for Real Betis but rallied on the ball in the box and was denied by goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who is enjoying a top-notch season.
Diego Lainez burst forward from his own half but lashed wildly over the crossbar in another moment where the visitors might have hurt their hosts.
Madrid’s squad have endured over 50 injuries this season, more than any other side in the top-flight, and ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League clash with Chelsea seemed worryingly short of energy.
“The team went out to win but we didn’t do well enough to,” said Madrid defender Dani Carvajal. “It’s clear that we took a step back in the race for La Liga.
“The calendar is packed and injuries are hurting us. The coach does what he can with rotations, but the truth is that it’s very tough. There are five games left and we will go for the 15 points. We feel that an opportunity has escaped us to put pressure on Barcelona and Atletico Madrid.”
Betis provisionally climbed to sixth, level on 50 points with fifth-place Real Sociedad, as they look to qualify for the Europa League.