Zinedine Zidane was fiercely critical of his Real Madrid side for their “worst-ever” first-half performance in the 2-2 draw with Club Brugge, describing the first goal as “laughable.”
Emmanuel Dennis’ peculiar brace gave the Belgian side a 2-0 half-time lead against the 13-time European champions, who opened their Pool A account by being brushed aside 3-0 by Paris Saint-Germain a fortnight ago.
Sergio Ramos halved the deficit before the hour before Brugge captain Ruud Vormer was sent off for a second bookable offence and, from the resulting free kick, Casemiro scored five minutes from time to rescue a 2-2 draw.
Thibaut Courtois was substituted at half-time, though reportedly for a stomach problem, while Eden Hazard is also under fire from some fans and the Madrid press after an underwhelming first few weeks since his move from Chelsea.
“We cannot be happy because we have never played as bad as we did in the opening 45 minutes,” Zidane said. “I’m pleased with how we reacted but not for only getting a point.
“The first goal we conceded was laughable. We started badly and we were not focused in the areas of the pitch where the opponent could cause us the most harm.
“The two goals that they scored were a joke, that’s all I can say on that.”
Group A table
|2. Club Brugge||2||2|
|4. Real Madrid||2||1|
The stats behind Real’s poor form
Though they sit top of La Liga with four wins and three draws from seven games, their Champions League form is worrying. After a draw and a defeat in their opening two group games, this equals Real’s worst ever start in the competition.
Real earned one point from their opening two in 2002/03. L
Real also conceded two or more goals in three consecutive home games in all European competitions for the first time in their history.
Their form in Zidane’s second spell is also worrying. They’ve won just 45 per cent of their 20 games under the Frenchman since he took over again, having won 80 per cent of their first 20 games in his initial spell in January 2016.
Real Madrid under Zinedine Zidane – first 20 matches
|First spell||Second spell|
What the papers say
After Marca suggested in midweek that Hazard was the second-worst Galactico behind Michael Owen, the Madrid newspaper instead went for Courtois on their cover, with the headline lamenting their defence: ‘Like a sieve, again.’
AS did go with Hazard, however, insisting there is cause for concern with the headline ‘Alarming’, also translated as ‘Concern’.
Ramos: We have to do better
Defender Ramos, who has so often been Real’s talisman, admitted his side must do better.
“A very bad first half, and a second half where we had courage and delivered as we are expected to do,” Ramos wrote on Twitter.
“We have to do more, we have to do better. It’s that clear.”
More injury concerns?
A stomach problem led to Courtois being substituted at half-time while defender Nacho’s knee injury led to his withdrawal before the start of the second half.
“Courtois is in a bad way and could not continue for the second half,” added Zidane, who revealed James Rodriguez and Gareth Bale were not considered for Tuesday’s game after picking up knocks earlier this week.
“Nacho got injured too. Courtois was not injured quite as badly, we’ll have to wait and see with the others.”
In an unlikely top-of-the-table clash, Real host Granada on Saturday at the Bernabeu, before going to Real Mallorca after the international break.
They have another tough task in their hope to get their Champions League campaign back on track, heading to Galatasaray on October 22, before a trip to the Nou Camp for the Clasico against Barcelona on October 26.