Furious Spanish press lay into Madrid after shock defeat
The front pages of Thursday’s Spanish newspapers will make for morbid reading for Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane after his side’s shock 3-2 defeat by Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League.
Zidane’s men crumpled in a dreadful first-half display and were 3-0 down at half-time.
While they rallied in the second, their two-goal fightback was ultimately in vain as they failed to snatch an equaliser.
While a losing start to the Champions League is always unacceptable for a club of Madrid’s calibre, the result was compounded by the fact they have a clash with fierce rivals Barcelona on the horizon this weekend.
The loss follows their shock defeat by Cadiz in LaLiga last Saturday, too.
Marca, the loyal Madrid-based sports paper, appear to be feeling fearful of El Clasico after Wednesday’s result.
‘Every day it’s worse: Madrid on a free fall.. and Saturday Barcelona,’ they wrote of the 13-time Champions League winners.
They also claimed that the mood in the dressing room was remarkably sombre after the defeat, with players ‘barely putting three words in a row’ when president Florentino Perez visited the team after the final whistle.
‘Embarrassing’ wrote AS on their cover with a picture of Thibaus Courtois picking the ball out of his net. ‘Madrid fall to Shakhtar’s reserves after a terrible first-half.’
Sport also reminded Madrid fans that a clash against Messi and Co is coming.
‘Ridiculous of champions,’ was their verdict. ‘A terrible level of performance before El Clasico.’
But over in Catalonia, there was quiet optimism on Thursday morning after the result. Barcelona-backers Mundo Deportivo labelled the performance ‘Nightmare before El Clasico’.
Shakhtar held a three-goal lead at the interval thanks to strikes from Tete and Manor Solomon, either side of a Raphael Varane own goal.
In the second half, Madrid produced an ominous response when Luka Modric pulled a goal back in the 54th minute before Vinicius grabbed a second five minutes later.
Yet Zidane’s men were unable to turn the screw and make their pressure pay. Shakhtar held on for over 30 minutes to claim a victory that sent shockwaves across Europe.
Agonisingly for Zidane, he was given the false hope of late equaliser when Federico Valverde scored in stoppage time.
But VAR had the final say and ruled that Vinicius was blocking the goalkeeper’s view from an offside position.
The reprieve meant Shakhtar clung to victory and left Zidane beleaguered ahead of a showdown against Real’s greatest foe on Saturday afternoon.
Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane takes an HOUR to appear for press conference following Shakhtar Donetsk humiliation before admitting: ‘We lacked confidence’
Zinedine Zidane took over an hour to appear in his post-match press conference after his team’s humbling at the hands of Shakhtar Donetsk and he then made the shock admission: ‘We lacked confidence.’
The 13-times Champions League winners were without the injured Eden Hazard and Zidane had left Karim Benzema on the bench but his team was still full of internationals and included serial European Cup winners.
‘We lacked the confidence to start the game as we know how,’ he said. ‘In the first half I did not see the team I wanted to see and that is my fault.’
Real Madrid take on Barcelona on Saturday at the Nou Camp having now lost to newly promoted Cadiz and group outsiders Shakhtar. -Dailymail