Zidane feels Fornals’ Real ‘hammer’ blow
But beleaguered boss declines to blame his underperforming squad
Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane refused to criticise his players as they suffered the “hammer blow” of a second-consecutive home defeat in La Liga.
Real reached the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey – where they will face Leganes – in midweek, but started the day 16 points behind rivals Barcelona in the league.
And that massive gap could be extended today after Zidane’s men lost 1-0 to Villarreal, with Pablo Fornals applying a sublime finish to an 87th-minute counter-attack for the Yellow Submarine, who had goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo to thank for a number of vital saves.
“It is hard to explain. We tried everything,” Zidane said.
“We had clear chances, but the ball would not go in. There is no explanation.
“This is a bad run that won’t stop and it is not good for my players. I can’t criticise them. This is simply a bad moment and a tough defeat to take on board because we didn’t deserve that.
“Amidst all the negatives we have to look for some positives and on Thursday (in the Copa del Rey) we have a chance to put things right.
“We have done everything possible to win but this is what we’re left with. The ball didn’t want to go in.
“We tried as best we could and I can’t really offer any explanation.
“We have games still to come and we can turn this around. We have gone through good times but now we are up against it and we know that. We must focus on what is going to change.
“We must keep working hard and win some games. Today was a hammer blow but we are going to turn things around on Thursday.”
Real had an early header from Gareth Bale correctly ruled out for offside, while Asenjo saved superbly from Marcelo and Cristiano Ronaldo (twice) in the first half.
“It might be a mental aspect that is stopping us from winning,” Zidane added. “When we are on a bad run, there are always negatives to pick up on.
“We did everything possible to win and I honestly cannot reproach my players for their actions.”
Can’t sink the Yellow Submarine: Villarreal’s defenders kept Cristiano Ronaldo (c) goalless during yesterday’s win at Real Madrid.