Football: Zidane blames Real misses over tactics

Espanyol forward Gerard Moreno scoring the game's only goal past Real goalkeeper Keylor Navas and defender Raphael Varane deep in stoppage time on Tuesday. It was Real's fifth LaLiga loss this season.
Espanyol forward Gerard Moreno scoring the game's only goal past Real goalkeeper Keylor Navas and defender Raphael Varane deep in stoppage time on Tuesday. It was Real's fifth LaLiga loss this season. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

MADRID • Espanyol live in the shadows of Barcelona but, on Tuesday, they did their city rivals a huge favour after forward Gerard Moreno's 93rd-minute goal gave the Spanish LaLiga side their first win in 11 years over Real Madrid.

And Real coach Zinedine Zidane was quick to blame the Catalan outfit's shock winner at the death on not having the rub of the green, despite his side being on a good run of form with five wins in a row.

The loss left the champions in third place on 51 points, a whopping 14 points adrift of leaders Barcelona and seven behind city rivals Atletico in second, with both teams having a game in hand.

Fourth-placed Valencia could overtake Real with a win at Athletic Bilbao last night.

While Real have one foot in the last eight of the Champions League with a 3-1 first-leg win over Paris Saint-Germain, Zidane was at a loss to explain a LaLiga campaign that has seen them lose five times.

"Sometimes you just cannot understand this sport," he told BeIN Sports. "You have to take the bad times when they come, though.

"After five good results, playing well, unfortunately we just couldn't do it today. We started well but just didn't take our chances."

At the Cornella-El Prat Stadium, the biggest errors appeared to be his tactical decisions.

After seeing Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale all return to form in Saturday's 4-0 win over Alaves, his decision to omit two of his "BBC" attacking triumvirate was questionable.

Benzema was named on the bench while Ronaldo, who is Real's top scorer this term with 14 LaLiga goals, was left out of the squad ahead of next Tuesday's return leg against PSG. Bale played but he put in an insipid display up front.

Zidane, however, declined to apportion blame. "It's not because of one player at all. I'm angry for my players, because they conceded a goal in the last minute... the opposition did not enjoy many chances," said the Frenchman.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 01, 2018, with the headline 'Zidane blames Real misses over tactics'. Print Edition | Subscribe