Real Madrid players ‘baffled’ by what Zinedine Zidane did at Valencia

Real Madrid, Zinedine Zidane (Photo by Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Zinedine Zidane (Photo by Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images) /

If you didn’t like Zinedine Zidane’s lineup for Real Madrid at Valencia, then you certainly weren’t alone.

Real Madrid fans thought the humiliating defeats this year were done with. Los Blancos bounced back pretty well from losses to Cadiz and Shakhtar Donetsk, but they slid backward at the Mestalla with a 4-1 loss to Valencia.

There are some things that Real cannot be faulted for. Firstly, who could have seen them giving up three penalties and an own goal? And secondly, they were without two crucial players in Casemiro and Eden Hazard due to COVID-19.

Even so, much, much better is expected from Real Madrid, especially against a Valencia side that isn’t competitive this season after selling many of their key players this summer.

And a lot of that responsibility falls on Zinedine Zidane, whose decision-making has reportedly been criticized within his own locker room.

According to a report from MARCA’s Jose Felix Diaz, Real Madrid players were “a little baffled” by Zinedine Zidane’s starting XI at the Mestalla.

Real Madrid should have started Ferland Mendy and Toni Kroos

They specifically couldn’t believe that Ferland Mendy and Toni Kroos weren’t in the lineup. Mendy is clearly the best left back in the squad, as he is a world-class defender and is miles ahead of Marcelo. And to nobody’s surprise, Marcelo cost the team again with his defensive errors.

To make matters worse for Zidane, Mendy wasn’t even called up to the French national team over the international break. So an argument that he was rested before the break wouldn’t make sense either.

As for Kroos, he came onto the pitch for the final minutes of the match, when a comeback was basically hopeless for Real Madrid at three goals down. The players also reportedly believed Kroos should have started, as he’s gained a lot of respect for the way he controls games in midfield. There is probably nobody better in world football at that.

Zidane deserves this criticism. He made similar mistakes against Cadiz, and Real Madrid paid for it. The same happened at the Mestalla, so Zidane did not learn from the Cadiz loss, which was a repeat of last October’s 1-0 defeat to Mallorca.

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There is no real pressure on Zidane, since most people understand the squad isn’t ready to truly compete yet. But these losses are unacceptable. In many ways, they are preventable with better decisions from the manager, which is now a big talking point post-game.