Zidane made changes to the starting line-up in an exercise of some quiet reproach for the farce against Cádiz and with a preventative eye on the upcoming Clásico. Antonio Romero was quick to criticise the manager on Spanish TV show Carrusel: "This match is more important than the one on Saturday,” he said. Whether or not this was true was somewhat blurred by the fact that it was Shakhtar that was coming to play, and they had been badly hit by the coronavirus, resulting in a team loaded with substitutes, leaving hardly any more on the bench. Additionally, as well as only being able to field a second string side, they were also considered to be the outliers of the group. Their visit was supposed to be the easiest game in this stage for the other three clubs.
Shakhtar and Cádiz: carbon copy
But the visitors came out of the blocks fast, and shook the ground of their hosts in that first period. Despite different players being on the pitch for Madrid, somehow they managed to mirror the first half performance against Cádiz. It took Shakhtar just twenty minutes to realise that they could win the game and they grew more lively with numerous and precise breaks, moving across the pitch catching a Madrid side out of sorts. Without Sergio Ramos the defence is a nervous wreck. The 0-3 that the scoreboard read at half-time was a true reflection of what was happening, simply the worst that Madrid has suffered at home in any European game. Mendy did ok, doing as best he could on the opposite flank that he’s used to, while Courtois made some important stops.
El Clásico test ahead for Zidane
Madrid returned after the break with Benzema back in his place, shortly after came Vinicius, and there was clearly more desire. It was a turnaround but the lack of a shot at goal was evident. Modric then scored from distance, a steal from Vinicius to start it off, but there were few other efforts. In the Shakhtar goal, Trubin was left with some residual work to do. The defeat left Madrid in a very uneasy position in the group and it left Zidane dumbfounded. The level of the team has plummeted and he doesn’t appear to know why. And it’s a bad week for it to have dropped, just when Barça have recovered some composure and direction with Messi’s progressive improvement. Saturday is a huge test for Zidane, with many Madridistas already giving him a thumbs down.