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Lopetegui does Zidane a favour

Barça slip

Just before the Barcelona game, Luis Suárez (the Ballon d'Or winning Spanish player) observed that the match was an opportunity to see if the other squad players could step up to the plate with many Barça regulars missing. This was their day to prove that they had what it takes and offered them a chance to make a claim for a regular starting place. They failed. Barça only showed flurries late on during the game through Neymar and later with a heroic performance from Piqué, who found himself playing as a striker. Malaga clung on for a point thanks to a sterling display from Kameni and mistakes from the match official. The newly introduced squad players failed to make the grade as Luis Enrique saw two home points slip away.


Madrid march on

Later that night at the Calderon Real Madrid faced Atleti with a plague of absentees through injury: Ramos, Pepe, Casemiro, Kroos and Morata who was ruled out after Spain's game in London. Without these key players who are first team regulars, Madrid secured the win and dominated proceedings for the bulk of the game. Zidane, forced to react with so many missing regulars was forced to shuffle his pack and offered a different formation and the starters on Saturday responded admirably. The midfield was excellent with solid performances from Kovacic and Lucas Vázquez with a virtuoso display from Isco, who was quite sensational.


Lopetegui vindicated 

These players were all involved in international duty the previous weekend and this is a key factor. Criticism was aimed at Spain coach Julen Lopetegui for calling up so many Real Madrid squad players to the Spanish team and as always these situations are always open to debate but the Madrid derby proves Lopetegui right. An international call-up is always good for a players self confidence and keeps the individual on his toes. Nacho is as good as any other player in the Madrid rear-guard. Lucas Vázquez always improves the team when he plays and Isco is in fine form at present. Lopetegui was spot on and in being so has done Zidane a small favour.

Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane applauds his team during the La Liga match between Club Atletico de Madrid and Real Madrid CF at Vicente Calderon Stadium on November 19, 2016 in Madrid, Spain.