Real Madrid on the march but hit 25-year low in front of goal

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The Blancos edged out Rayo Vallecano in their most recent outing, but they only had a Karim Benzema strike to show for their efforts on home soil

Real Madrid have closed the gap at the top of La Liga, but hit a 25-year low in front of goal in the process.

The Blancos ground out another dogged victory over Rayo Vallecano on Saturday.

Santiago Solari’s side dominated possession at the Santiago Bernabeu, but did little with the ball.

They mustered only nine attempts over the course of 90 minutes, compared to 11 from the visitors.

Fortunately for them, one of their efforts did hit the back of the net.

Karim Benzema broke the deadlock inside 13 minutes and Madrid held on to what they had from there.

A narrow victory has lifted Real into third spot and to within two points of joint-leaders Barcelona and Atletico Madrid – with the Blaugrana in action on Sunday.

They have responded positively to the early struggles endured in 2018-19 under Julen Lopetegui, but they are hardly firing on all cylinders.

Not since the start of the 1993-94 campaign have Madrid found the going so tough in the final third.

Real have recorded two or more goals in a La Liga fixture just six times this season.

They have drawn a blank on four occasions, with five defeats suffered in just 16 outings.

While there are still concerns going forward, the Blancos have tightened up at the back.

Solari’s side are giving themselves a chance every time they take to the field at present, with the defensive door being firmly bolted.

They have not been this tough to break down since since 2015, during Rafa Benitez’s ill-fated tenure in the Spanish capital.

Real have kept clean sheets in five of their last six outings across all competitions, with third tier minnows Melilla the only side to breach them – and that effort came in a 6-1 Copa del Rey win for the Blancos.

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Madrid are now set to take a break from domestic and European action as they head to Abu Dhabi for the Club World Cup.

They have discovered that Kashima Antlers will be their opponents at the semi-final stage, with the Japanese side having previously pushed them close in the final in 2016.

Real are looking to claim FIFA’s global crown for the third successive season.

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