November 9 – Zinedine Zidane’s rotation policy backfired once more after his Real Madrid slid to a dispiriting 4-1 defeat at Valencia, missing a chance to go top of the table in La Liga.
The French coach benched both Toni Kroos and Ferland Mendy for their away game in Valencia, with both Isco and Marcelo starting the game. Zidane was without Eden Hazard and midfield anchor Casemiro as well. The pair tested positive for Covid-19 and went into quarantine.
Even so, Real Madrid’s performance was disastrous, leading to a third defeat in less than a month after losing to both Cadiz and Shakhtar Donetsk. Real conceded three penalties for the first time in their history, all of which were converted by Valencia’s Carlos Soler. To compound the team’s defensive woes, centre back Raphael Varane scored an own goal as well.
But Zidane didn’t look for excuses after the match. “We can look for one thousand excuses and everyone can find any reason they want to explain this,” said the Real Madrid coach. “But we should not be looking for excuses, everyone in this squad is a Real Madrid player.”
Karim Benzema handed the visitors the lead midway the first half, but after the hosts equalized Real Madrid imploded. Zidane was at a loss to explain his side’s collapse. “We played well in the first half an hour but the game changed completely after they equalised This has happened to us a number of times and I don’t like it. We need to really analyse what is going wrong because any little thing can cause us lots of difficulties. Once we conceded the first goal we couldn’t get back into the game. A lot of things went against us today.”
Real Socieded remain top of the Spanish league table, with Real Madrid sitting in fourth spot on 16 points. After the international break, Madrid will play Villareal before traveling to Inter Milan for a crunch Champions League match.
Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1606969284labto1606969284ofdlr1606969284owedi1606969284sni@o1606969284fni1606969284