Real struggle for Zizou to lift uninspired team

MADRID • Zinedine Zidane urged his Real Madrid side to "give a little more" as Karim Benzema's goal was enough only for a 1-1 LaLiga underwhelming draw at Leganes.

Real have 61 points, 13 points adrift of leaders Barcelona, with Zidane's second reign as coach now delivering three wins, one defeat and a draw. They are four points behind Atletico Madrid (65) and finishing second, and above their city rivals, appears unlikely.

"It looks like we do not have much confidence," Zidane said. "We can play better, we must play better. The first half was not so good, the second a bit better.

"Even if this might have been a bad season, we must all give a bit more."

He was asked last month about the humiliation of playing on a Monday night, the time typically reserved for LaLiga's sides not involved in European competitions and so unpopular that it will be abolished next season.

Most of the Frenchman's press conferences have so far been dominated by questions about his players' futures and on this evidence, few will be feeling secure.

Benzema has been, by a distance, Real's most consistent player this season and he showed again why Zidane has already said the striker will stay.

Leganes might even have won it after Jonathan Silva gave them the lead shortly before half-time and while Benzema scored his 26th goal of the season, Real never looked like finding a winner.

Gareth Bale, meanwhile, was benched for the second time in three matches, with his prospects looking evermore bleak.

"It's a really tricky season, it's hard to explain and we all feel sad," said goalkeeper Keylor Navas. "But in this club there's always pressure and that cannot be an excuse."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 17, 2019, with the headline 'Real struggle for Zizou to lift uninspired team'. Print Edition | Subscribe