Zidane calls for calm as Madrid slip up again ahead of Clasico

Sports | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 23 Oct 2020

Zinedine Zidane called for cool heads after Real Madrid lost 3-2 in their Champions League opener at home to a depleted Shakhtar Donetsk - their second consecutive defeat ahead of the Clasico against Barcelona tomorrow.

Ukrainian champions Shakhtar were without 10 first-team players and nine staffers due to coronavirus infections. Yet they recorded a remarkable win at the Alfredo di Stefano stadium after scoring three times in 13 first-half minutes.

"We lacked a bit of everything but above all our confidence," said Zidane. "We have to stay calm."

Strikes from Tete and Manor Solomon either side of a Raphael Varane own goal gave Shakhtar a lead at the interval. And while Luka Modric and Vinicius Junior pulled goals back, Madrid fell short.

The upset puts Madrid on the back foot in Group B, especially as Shakhtar were in theory their weakest opponents. The other teams ion the group are Inter Milan and Borussia Monchengladbach, who drew 2-2 in Italy.

But the loss also cranked up the pressure on the Real team ahead of the clash with Spanish arch-rivals Barcelona as well as on Zidane, who oversaw a dreadful display in last weekend's 1-0 loss to Cadiz.

"I am responsible," Zidane admitted. "I'm the coach - and I have to find a solution."

In fact, Zidane paid the price for rotating his starting lineup against Cadiz, and he shuffled his team again for Shakhtar, presumably with the Barca clash in mind.

Toni Kroos and Karim Benzema were relegated to the bench against the Ukrainians but went on in the second half while Eder Militao - in for the injured Sergio Ramos - Rodrygo and Marco Asensio were given chances to impress.

Madrid have now lost seven out of their last eight Champions League games.

Elsewhere, holders Bayern Munich began their campaign by crushing Atletico Madrid 4-0.

Kingsley Coman put Bayern ahead in the Group A clash and scored with a stunning individual effort to wrap up the victory at an empty Allianz Arena.

In between, Leon Goretzka and Corentin Tolisso were also on target for the German champions.

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May 2021

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