Real blame stalemate on travel chaos amid storm

Real forward Lucas Vazquez lying on the slippery and icy El Sadar pitch during the 0-0 draw with Osasuna. Coach Zinedine Zidane implied that La Liga's insistence on playing the game cost his side two points.
Real forward Lucas Vazquez lying on the slippery and icy El Sadar pitch during the 0-0 draw with Osasuna. Coach Zinedine Zidane implied that La Liga's insistence on playing the game cost his side two points.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

MADRID • Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois joined coach Zinedine Zidane in criticising La Liga for not postponing their Spanish league game at 19th-placed Osasuna on Saturday due to a snowstorm.

The match finished 0-0, denting the champions' title bid, after they were ordered by La Liga to travel to Pamplona the day before the game due to storm warnings.

However, the team were forced to wait for four hours on the icy runway before taking off, leaving Real furious at the way they were treated.

The snow buffeted the pitch and Zidane's men failed to get a grip on the game, failing to have a shot on target in the first half.

Implying La Liga had cost his side two points, the Frenchman said: "That was not a football match, it should have been called off.

"We dealt badly with the conditions and the journey, and we did what we could on the pitch but the sensation we have now is that it wasn't a proper match.

"My biggest complaint is about the match. The conditions weren't right. I know I'm repeating myself, but that's how it is."

Courtois agreed, telling Spanish network Movistar: "I have to thank the staff at Osasuna for what they did with the pitch but (making us play) was lamentable.

"They (La Liga) knew for a long time that this was going to happen but they made us take off on a frozen runway."

The bad weather did not let up, preventing Real from returning to Madrid after the game as usual and the team had to spend the night in Pamplona.

They play Athletic Bilbao in the Spanish Super Cup in Malaga on Thursday and Courtois felt that La Liga failed to show empathy.

"We arrived at the stadium with the roads full of snow. We have to prioritise people's safety," the Belgium No. 1 said. "We do what we are asked.

"We knew that if we didn't come here, we could lose the points but all you need to do is take a look and the roads. We also have families and we're not puppets who have to play all the time."

La Liga did not immediately respond to a request for comment but the snowstorm, which paralysed parts of Spain, meant leaders Atletico Madrid's home match with Bilbao was called off, while Elche's home game against Getafe was moved 24 hours to today.

The weather was better in the south of Spain and Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann had a double each as Barcelona thrashed Granada 4-0 away to win a third consecutive La Liga game for the first time this season.

The third-placed Catalans remain four points behind Atletico (38), who also have three games in hand. Real are on 37 and like Barca have played 18 games.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 11, 2021, with the headline 'Real blame stalemate on travel chaos amid storm'. Subscribe