Isco the pick of a bad bunch in Real Madrid's scoreless derbi draw
Third and fourth in La Liga met in the Madrid derby, but the only winner was Barcelona, as Real Madrid ground out a soulless 0-0 draw in the Metropolitano.
Atletico Madrid's Angel Correa had a golden opportunity to open the scoring on three minutes, and that turned out to be the highlight of the goal-mouth action in a game that was a poor return on the investment made by paying customers.
Defeat was avoided, but that was the minimum requirement for Zinedine Zidane. Otherwise, this was a repetition of the malaise that has afflicted the Frenchman's side this season.
A complete lack of attacking ideas, shoddy defending, star players performing well below their pay packets and a generally lacklustre performance. And those were the highlights. Were it not for Isco you could have been forgiven for thinking you were watching Forest Hill.
Manager rating out of 10
3 -- There is no escaping it now: Zidane is not going to bench senior players, even if they turn out in full Cuckoo's Nest mode, shuffling around while Cristiano Ronaldo exhorts them to raise their hands if they want to watch the ball game. The Real boss had the chance to kick a few backsides in his team selection but watched impotently as a tired formula failed miserably again. Marco Asensio got a cameo. Dani Ceballos didn't even make it off the bench. Real had three shots on target.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Kiko Casilla, 6 -- The No. 2 will come out of this just fine: He made a grand total of zero saves and was close to inching into the top five Real players in terms of pass completion success. Can he play Atleti every week?
DF Dani Carvajal, 6 -- The good news is that Carvajal was available at all after a heart condition, but a yellow for a lunging challenge on Lucas Hernandez suggested he's not quite up to speed. He was in good company.
DF Raphael Varane, 7 -- To blame for letting Correa in but made amends by cutting out a ball falling for Antoine Griezmann. He made at least two more vital interventions, not least a goal-line clearance from Kevin Gameiro. Led the way in pass completion with 96 percent when all around him were losing their heads.
DF Sergio Ramos, 6 -- Was alone in reading a run from Koke early on but had his evening cut short by a boot in the face from Lucas Hernandez in the first half and did not emerge for the second.
DF Marcelo, 5 -- The Brazilian looks out of sorts and was given the run-around by Correa while offering little going forward. Another player enjoying his pitch time on the basis of reputation and the youth of his understudy.
MF Casemiro, 7 -- Casemiro enjoyed complete air superiority, winning three times as many headers as anyone else on the pitch. In a battle of attrition against Atleti's physical midfield, he still found time among several successful tackles to complete 90 percent of his passes.
MF Luka Modric, 5 -- An anonymous first half was almost inevitable. Zidane rested the Croatian ahead of international duty but somehow expected him to return fresh enough to have a crack at a derby. That he was subjected to the full 90 is another question mark against Zidane's game management.
MF Toni Kroos, 7 -- Went close after a neat one-two with Ronaldo in the first half and tested Jan Oblak with a stinging drive on 86 minutes. The German is far from at his best, but in the current form pool he is swimming lengths while others are flailing in the shallow end.
MF Isco, 8 -- Once again, the Malagan magician was the pick of the bunch. Not only did he show more willingness than any of his teammates to attack the Atletico defence, he also stuck in more tackles (7) than anyone on the pitch. You can't really ask for much more.
FW Cristiano Ronaldo, 5 -- Two of his seven shots were on target on Saturday, taking Ronaldo's accuracy rate to roughly one goal for every 50 attempts in the league. The Portuguese had a decent chance at the death but his first touch eluded him, allowing Lucas Hernandez to block. His confidence and marksmanship are shot.
FW Karim Benzema, 4 -- A ball smack in the face from Correa in the first half was the closest Benzema came to troubling Oblak, and if that sounds harsh imagine Borja Mayoral's reaction to another bench-warming evening. The canterano should look elsewhere for a game in January, because Benzema will continue to be handed starts despite a return of zero shots on goal in the Metropolitano.
DF Nacho, 6 -- On for the stricken Ramos, did enough to warrant his position in the pecking order against a toothless Atletico attack.
FW Marco Asensio, NR -- On for Benzema, one of many who must be wondering if a different handshake is required at the changeover to gain access to the inner circle.
Rob Train covers Real Madrid and the Spanish national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @Cafc13Rob.