Zi­dane’s men lost to Va­len­cia at the Mestalla, a step back in their ti­tle chase

The Economic Times - - Sports: The Great Games - Sa­muel Lovett

Real Madrid were left stunned at the Mestalla Sta­dium as a de­fi­ant and plucky Va­len­ci­aside­hel­don­fora2-1vic­to­rya­gainst Zine­dine Zi­dane’s men. The vis­i­tors found them­selves trail­ing 10 min­utes in as goals from Sime­one Zaza and Fabian Orel­lana handed Vora’s side an un­ex­pected lead. Real fought back, claw­ing one back through Cris­tiano Ron­aldo’s late first-half header, but the league lead­ers were un­able to find an equaliser and re­main just one point ahead of ri­vals Barcelona. Here’s three things Madrid have to worry about:

MADRID’S CRE­DEN­TIALS QUES­TIONED

Af­ter fall­ing two goals be­hind in the open­ing 10 min­utes, tonight’s game quickly pro­gressed into the big­gest test yet of Madrid’s champions cre­den­tials. The vis­i­tors had the op­por­tu­nity to pull four points ahead of ri­vals Barcelona, against a side that has strug­gled this sea­son, but failed to ef­fec­tively re­spond to Va­len­cia’s early lead. Madrid threw ev­ery­thing at their op­po­nents but, on this oc­ca­sion, sheer grit and de­fi­ance was enoughtosee­outvic­to­ry­forVoro’smen.For all their class and tal­ent. Madrid have taken a size­able psy­cho­log­i­cal blow tonight and of­fered their ti­tle ri­vals hope.

JAMES FAILS TO SEIZE OP­POR­TU­NITY

The Colom­bian was handed a rare start un­der­ZinedineZi­danebut,when­push­cameto shove, the 25-year-old strug­gled to de­liver. James slipped un­der the radar for much of the game, fail­ing to dic­tate the run of play as oth­ers around him put in the hard work. It’s game like these, against lesser sides such as Va­len­cia, where the Colom­bia in­ter­na­tional should be prov­ing his worth to the side. More is needed from him.

CR7 NEEDS TO SHARE RE­SPON­SI­BIL­ITY

De­spite of­fer­ing the vis­i­tors hope with his late first-half goal, Ron­aldo was un­able to pro­vide a so­lu­tion to his side’s woes tonight. Frus­tra­tion ap­peared to get bet­ter of him on mul­ti­ple oc­ca­sions as he sought to take on Va­len­cia sin­gle-hand­edly. But this men­tal­ity played against Madrid. In sce­nar­ios where he should have opted to pass and move on play, the 30-year-old went for it alone, let­ting loose with a num­ber of wild and off-tar­get shots.

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