Up until around the 60s, you'd often hear Spaniards say "uno cero, y Zamora de portero" when the first hand was won in the card game Mus. The rhyming phrase, which literally translates as "one-nil, Zamora in goal", came about after a Spain tour on which the team twice triumphed 1-0 thanks to the heroics of legendary goalkeeper Ricardo Zamora. It occurred to me as I watched Keylor Navas' display against Spurs yesterday. Though Real Madrid did not win, but rather lost by that scoreline, it would have been a lot more had it not been for Navas, a keeper who Zinedine Zidane and Florentino Pérez don't like, but the rest of us do. A fine player viewed with unjust suspicion, he deals with it with admirable composure.
More of the same from apathetic Real Madrid
Navas aside, it was more of the same from Madrid. A side overcome by apathy, populated by footballers who won a lot when they were playing alongside Cristiano Ronaldo - who, by the way, was embraced by Pérez the day before yesterday with what rather smacked of a longing for those never-to-return times. He's gone, and it's folly to expect Eden Hazard to make up for his absence. He's an elegant, borderline-top player who is part-Isco, part-Cristiano, but on the ability spectrum is much closer to the former. As for Gareth Bale, the squad's other 'galáctico' (save for Karim Benzema), don't ask. He stayed behind because he was "too distressed". There must be an outbreak of molehills on the golf courses.
Anyway, it's three defeats and a draw so far this pre-season for Madrid, who are in a black hole of form which is gobbling up all the credit Zidane had built up. He returned to the club to get Pérez out of a tight spot, and has merely succeeded in taking his place in it. His excuse remains that he hasn't been given Paul Pogba. All the while, Pérez has two escape routes: José Mourinho, who is out of work, is making it clear he doesn't want to be, and in the president's eyes is still the one that got away; and Raúl, who'd basically be the club's attempt to recreate Barcelona's successful promotion of Pep Guardiola. Zidane has already served his most pressing purpose: to bail out Pérez. Having done that, he's more or less expendable. And if you're expendable, you're less likely to be cut much slack for so many poor results.