Zinedine Zidane has described his side’s defeat to Villarreal as a ‘hammer blow’, but can’t criticise his players despite their bad run of form.
Los Blancos were on the back end of a 1-0 loss against Villarreal on Saturday at the Santiago Bernabeu – a result which sees them 16 points behind rivals Barcelona, who can extend their lead even further when they travel to Real Sociedad on Sunday.
It was 21-year-old Pablo Fornals who inflicted the damage on Zidane’s side when he was on the end of an 87th minute counter-attack to deftly chip it into the Madrid net, sealing Villarreal’s first win at the Santiago Bernabeu.
This result means Real have suffered back-to-back home loses and have now won just once in five league outings.
“It is hard to explain. We tried everything, we had clear chances, but the ball would not go in. There is no explanation,” Zidane said (via Sky Sports).
“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. 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.”
Zidane concluded by saying: “It might be a mental aspect that is stopping us from winning. When we are on a bad run there are always negatives to pick up on. We shot on target but didn’t score, when there were rebounds we were not on the end of them. This can wear you down mentally.
“We did everything possible to win and I honestly cannot reproach my players for their actions. I am not happy but nor do I feel beaten. This is another chance to show that we can turn this situation around. After a game like this, things are tough, but we can turn this around.”
Zidane will certainly be feeling the pressure after seeing Real’s problems at home continue. This latest setback has many implications for the ex-France international and his side – because if Barcelona beat Real Sociedad on Sunday, Madrid will be 19 points adrift at the halfway stage of the Primera Division.