It was always going to be a tight game, with defences set to dominate and so it proved to be as Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid played out a goalless draw at the Vicente Calderon in the first leg quarterfinal of the Champions League.
Smarting from heavy defeats handed out by their rivals Atletico this season, Real flew out of the blocks determined to get that crucial away goal (or two), and they would have as well if not for a wonderful save from Jan Oblak to deny Gareth Bale, who, like Carlo Ancelotti said in the buildup, was fit enough to take the field from the start.
Bale should have scored with that chance on three minutes after he found himself through on goal following a missed clearance from the usually dependable Diego Godin, but his whipped effort to the right of Oblak was brilliantly repelled by the Atletico goalkeeper.
Oblak had to be at his best to further stop strikes from Cristiano Ronaldo, not allowed to be his unstoppable best by Atletico, and James Rodriguez, and even if Atletico came into the game a little more in the second half, you always felt the match was going to end up 0-0, and so it did at the final whistle.
It is now all to play for in the second leg at the Bernabeu next Wednesday, where either the defending champions or the finalists from last season will be knocked out after that hopefully-cracker of a game.
"We deserved more than a 0-0, especially in the first half," said Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti. "The first period was fantastic and we played with a lot of personality. The second half was different. Atletico pressed more.
"The result is not so good but we are confident. Atletico are one of the best teams in the world defensively and that is the reason we had problems scoring. We didn't finish well but we did a good job. We have to repeat this showing next Wednesday."
The other quarterfinal tie on Tuesday saw Juventus take a slender advantage into the second leg, with midfielder Arturo Vidal scoring the only goal of the game against Monaco.
Vidal made it 1-0 to the home side from the penalty spot in 57 minutes, after Ricardo Carvalho – yes, he is still very much playing -- was adjudged to have brought down Alvaro Morata inside the penalty box.
While a 1-0 result is far from a secure-enough lead to take to the second leg, Juve will take heart from the fact that they did not conceded an away goal, and with Monaco now under pressure to find at least one goal in the second leg, the Italian champions will look to get an away goal themselves on the counter – something that Juve struggled to cope with against Monaco in Turin -- which would in turn mean the French side having to score a minimum three goals to seal a place in the semifinals.
"We were hurt by some of their breaks in the first half as we made a few mistakes," said Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri. "Monaco have great players, some great youngsters and are really well-organised. Anybody who thinks it's easy in the quarterfinals is wrong.
"They've got the best defence in the French league and they've only conceded four goals in the Champions League -- that says it all.
"We got ourselves into the game well as it progressed, playing with patience. We gave them nothing in the second half, just one chance from a corner and then a break from one of our corners, but we've got to work on this.
"It's a good result and we've got to go there to earn a semifinal berth because 1-0 is not enough. We know we're going to have to score there if we want to go through."