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Real Madrid slips in title race after held by Betis to 0-0

Real Madrid stumbled in a tight Spanish league title race after being held at home by Real Betis to 0-0 on Saturday.

Madrid was left two points behind leader Atlético Madrid, which can take a big step toward its first title since 2014 if it wins at Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.

Barcelona also has the chance to move ahead of the defending champion. Lionel Messi’s side has two more games to play than its two title rivals, with its first coming at Villarreal also on Sunday.

Real Madrid's Dani Carvajal, left, vies for the ball with Betis' Borja Iglesias during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between Real Madrid and Betis at the Alfredo di Stefano stadium in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, April 24, 2021. (AP PhotoBernat Armangue)

The slip came three days before Madrid starts its Champions League semifinal against Chelsea in the Spanish capital.

In a toothless outing for Madrid under steady rain at its Alfredo Di Stéfano Stadium, the closest the host came to scoring was Rodrygo’s errant cross hitting the crossbar in the 55th minute.

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Betis' Andres Guardado, front, falls next to Real Madrid's Karim Benzema during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between Real Madrid and Betis at the Alfredo di Stefano stadium in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, April 24, 2021. (AP PhotoBernat Armangue)

Real Madrid's Karim Benzema controls the ball during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between Real Madrid and Betis at the Alfredo di Stefano stadium in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, April 24, 2021. (AP PhotoBernat Armangue)

Betis' goalkeeper Claudio Bravo catches during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between Real Madrid and Betis at the Alfredo di Stefano stadium in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, April 24, 2021. (AP PhotoBernat Armangue)

Real Madrid's head coach Zinedine Zidane looks on during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between Real Madrid and Betis at the Alfredo di Stefano stadium in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, April 24, 2021. (AP PhotoBernat Armangue)