Zi­dane scram­bling for an­swers af­ter Madrid’s early strug­gles

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

Real Madrid coach Zine­dine Zi­dane goes into the long in­ter­na­tional break with a lot of think­ing to do.

While the hia­tus leaves fans hav­ing to mull over the team’s strug­gles a lit­tle longer, Zi­dane will be able to use the ex­tra time off to find ways to get his squad back on track af­ter four straight draws.

“It’s my re­spon­si­bil­ity to look for so­lu­tions be­cause we’ve got to change things. We can’t carry on like this,” Zi­dane said. “I’m not happy, that much is clear.”

Madrid was held to a 1-1 draw by Eibar at the San­ti­ago Bern­abeu Sta­dium on Sun­day, leav­ing the field jeered by fans. The team had al­ready failed to beat Las Pal­mas and Vil­lar­real in the Span­ish league, as well as Borus­sia Dort­mund in the Cham­pi­ons League. Its last win was at Es­panyol on 18 Septem­ber.

“We need to look for ways to im­prove and we’ll do that af­ter the in­ter­na­tional break by work­ing hard. I be­lieve in the work and the qual­ity of this team. I don’t think at­ti­tude is the prob­lem but some­thing is wrong,” Zi­dane said. “We’ve got 10 days with­out the play­ers and when they come back we’ll have to start work­ing at 100 per cent, not only phys­i­cally but tac­ti­cally as well. We need to work to­gether.”

Zi­dane said it’s too early in the sea­son to talk about a cri­sis, but ad­mit­ted the team has to turn things around when it re­sumes play­ing in two weeks.

“Af­ter the start we had to the sea­son, this is tough to take,” he said. “I’m not go­ing to lose my head but it’s tough. We need to work harder and show more in­ten­sity at the be­gin­ning of games like we’ve done very of­ten, but we’re strug­gling to repli­cate that lately.”

Madrid lost the league lead to Atletico Madrid af­ter Sun­day’s draw. Atletico, which won 2-0 at Va­len­cia, also has 15 points, but leads Madrid on goal dif­fer­ence. Sevilla is third with 14 points, one more than Barcelona, which lost at Celta Vigo 4-3.

Zi­dane said he may have to “bring more in­ten­sity to the train­ing ses­sions” to get his play­ers play­ing hard from the start.

Zi­dane has not been able to count on some play­ers dur­ing the win­less stretch, in­clud­ing left back Marcelo and de­fen­sive mid­fielder Casemiro, who are in­jured.

To add to Zi­dane’s prob­lems, play­maker James Ro­driguez sus­tained a mus­cle in­jury while warm­ing up for Sun­day’s game against Eibar, and mid­fielder Luka Mo­dric will be out for a while af­ter un­der­go­ing arthro­scopic surgery on his left knee.

Madrid’s next chance to snap its win­less streak is 15 Oc­to­ber at Real Betis, a team which has yet to lose at home. Madrid then hosts sixth-place Ath­letic Bil­bao.

Real Madrid’s head coach Zine­dine Zi­dane shades his eyes as he fol­lows the ac­tion dur­ing the La Liga match against Eibar on Sun­day Photo: AP

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