Zidane's copybook blotted once again in Vallecas
With Barça's LaLiga win still fresh in the mind, Real Madrid were back in action again, this time in Vallecas. Relegation threatened Rayo Vallecano showed far more desire and drive against a lazy and depressed Madrid side with the introduction of Brahim from the bench, the only bright light in a poor overall performance with Zidane hoping that his XI with plenty of new faces would offer more swagger. Rayo are in the relegation quagmire and cling onto the hope of salvation as they face three direct rivals in their final three fixtures. They delivered a fine display and as always under Paco Jémez, they always looked to play the ball out from the back, never panicking and created danger in attack against a wooden Real Madrid rearguard.
De Tomas absence
Rayo were easy on the eye and played with discipline and verve, this too without their leading striker Raúl de Tomás, who was denied the opportunity to play as parent club Madrid demanded an additional fee for him to face his 'owners'. Rayo president Martín Presa's plea was met with a curt 'we don't do this with other clubs, so we can't do it for you' reply. De Tomas' absence added even more merit to Rayo's win, a bright light on a generally disappointing season blighted by negativity and an inability to see out games from winning positions. From the opposition perspective, this is a game that did little for Zidane's prestige with the French coach struggling as the team play out the remaining fixtures of a season with nothing at stake as each Madrid performance seems to be poorer than the previous game.
Yesterday a debate arose on the Carrusel radio programme on Cadena SER as to just why Zidane accepted a return to Real Madrid at this point of the season. Some felt it was to deflect some of the pressure away from Florentino, with others feeling that his decision was based on having an opportunity to work with those players who helped the club to three Champions League wins under the French coach and afford him time to strategically plan the 2019-20 campaign. His return has not been a happy one to date and as time moves on with the Frenchman on the bench, there will be those who feel that he has had some role to play in the overall disappointing season for the club. The bad news for Zidane is that there are still three LaLiga games to negotiate before the curtain comes down on the present 2018-19 season.