Real Madrid ended a difficult week with a frustrating 0-0 draw at Real Betis that did little to enhance their prospects of catching Barcelona in the LaLiga title race.
After losing 1-0 at home to Barca in the first leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final on Thursday, Real dominated against Betis but missed several opportunities.
Barcelona are top on 62 points, nine clear of second-placed Real who have now had consecutive draws. Betis are fifth with 41 points, three points off the Champions League places.
It was a lively match at Seville that needed a goal with Real Madrid dominating the proceedings but an often dangerous Betis constantly threatening Thibaut Courtois’ goal.
After a 5-2 win at Liverpool in their last-16 Champions League first-leg tie, Real Madrid have been struggling up front.
They have scored once in their last three games in all competitions – a set piece in the 1-1 draw with Atletico Madrid.
At Betis they started well but Karim Benzema’s effort from a free kick ruled out in the 12th minute as the ball deflected off Real defender Antonio Ruediger’s hand before going in.
The visitors kept pushing and Federico Valverde almost scored but his thunderous strike flew just above the bar.
The tension and intensity grew in the second half, with Real going all out to get a win and Betis having chances of their own to shock the LaLiga and Champions League holders.
Betis’ Claudio Bravo made a brilliant save from a Benzema strike to deny Real an opener right after the break and Courtois performed his own miracle to deny Borja Iglesias from point-blank range with a one-handed save.
Rodrygo then wasted two great opportunities when he passed to Benzema instead of finishing and then missed an absolute sitter from close range after a Valverde cross.
Substitute Dani Ceballos also spurned a chance and Bravo kept out close-range shots by Nacho and Benzema.