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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 September 2018

Real Madrid will have 'another opportunity' to catch Barcelona as Zidane remains calm after latest draw

Reigning champions failed to capitalise on Barca's earlier draw against Celta Vigo when they were held by Athletic Bilbao. 

Cristiano Ronaldo cuts a frustrated figure during Real Madrid's draw against Athletic Bilbao on Saturday. Ander Gillenea / AFP
Cristiano Ronaldo cuts a frustrated figure during Real Madrid's draw against Athletic Bilbao on Saturday. Ander Gillenea / AFP

Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane tried to hide his disappointment at missing the chance to close to gap on rivals Barcelona at the top of the Primera Liga to six points on Saturday.

Madrid failed to capitalise on Barca's 2-2 draw at home to Celta Vigo earlier in the day as they played out a 0-0 stalemate at Athletic Bilbao to drop points for the sixth time in 14 Primera Liga games so far this season.

"For me the most important thing is to keep thinking that we are going to have another opportunity throughout the course of the season to cut the gap," Zidane said.

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That opportunity to cut the eight-point gap between the sides is most likely to come when Madrid host Barcelona in three weeks.

However, Madrid could go into that match fifth in the table as they currently lead Sevilla only on goal difference in fourth and trail Valencia and Atletico Madrid.

Zidane's men will also be without captain Sergio Ramos, who saw his 24th career red card late on at Sam Mames, Dani Carvajal and Casemiro through suspension when Sevilla visit the Bernabeu next weekend.

And Madrid will play a game fewer in the Primera Liga than their rivals before the end of the year as they arrive in the UAE to contest the Fifa Club World Cup between December 13-16.

"At the moment there are three teams in front of us, but there are still six months left. We are at little behind, but there is a long way to go," Zidane said.

Zidane had shown his intent to pounce on Barca's slip-up by naming his strongest available side as Gareth Bale once again missed out through injury.

Without the man from Cardiff, Madrid started with the same line-up that started the Uefa Champions League final in the Welsh capital six months ago.

However, Zidane insisted it is merely results and not the level of performance that has changed for Madrid since they swept Juventus aside to retain the Champions League and beat Barcelona to the Primera Liga title last season.

"It is the result, nothing more. When I look at the game today, I can't say we are playing worse," the Frenchman said. "What changes things are goals. That day we scored four against Juve and today we couldn't score.

"Last season we would score goals in the last minute and at the moment that isn't happening. We need to keep going and think that there will be better moments to come."

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