Madrid: Real Madrid reignited their La Liga title race on Sunday (December 13) beating leaders Atletico Madrid 2-0 as their city rivals suffered a first league defeat of the season, hence ending their 26-games unbeaten run.
“We confirmed the improvement we showed in many areas against Sevilla and Borussia, and gave another good display,” said Zinedine Zidane, recollecting his side’s wins in the past week which have helped turn around the season.
“There are criticisms that hurt, but they also make you stronger.” “We competed very well from minute one until the end, we must be satisfied with work well done.”
Los Blancos went ahead just after 15 minutes when Casemiro headed a corner from Toni Kroos. Previously, Real kept the pressure on, which saw Karim Benzema denied by a fine save from Jan Oblak.
Real doubled their after 63 minutes with Kroos again the provider. His pass fell for Dani Carvajal whose drive hit the post but was diverted back into the net by Oblak, helplessly thus drawing an own goal to his name.
Diego Simeone’s men just could manage one shot on target. “We have to improve. The criticism is fair and justified, but there’s also what I’m saying,” Simeone said.
“We put in a big effort the other day [against RB Salzburg], there were nerves about going out of the Champions League. There was a lot of emotional baggage, which I’m not using as an excuse, but it exists.
“We played badly today. The coach didn’t have the clarity to see the game in the best way and the team didn’t do what was asked of them. Now we have to play again, we have a Copa del Rey game in midweek.”
When he was questioned about his substitutions, especially, the decision to take Joao Felix off the field when his team needed a goal to which Felix showed his frustration clearly.
“I understood the game in the way in which I showed,” Simeone said on the substitution.
“I was looking for freshness in attack, whether it was Joao or [Hector] Herrera [who had to come off].
“I was looking for more legs in midfield. The game was breaking Real Madrid’s way and we wanted to compete better. We couldn’t find the goal we were looking for to reduce the difference.
“I understand (Joao Felix’s) annoyance and I share it. I know that, when one plays, you want to give more, but you have to ask the player why they got annoyed.
“I can give you what I think it could be, that he wants to play the full 90 minutes, play better…
“There’s a thousand things. When you have the chance, ask each of them why they got annoyed.”