Zinedine Zidane Defends Team Selection After Clasico Defeat
Zinedine Zidane insisted he had “no regrets” about his decision to start Mateo Kovacic ahead of Isco in Real Madrid’s 3-0 defeat to Barcelona in Saturday’s Clasico.
Kovacic was handed his first La Liga start of the season at the Bernabeu as Zidane elected to bolster his midfield, but Real were ripped apart in the second half as goals from Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi and Aleix Vidal allowed Barcelona to open up a 14-point gap on their rivals.
The humiliating defeat leaves Real’s title hopes hanging by a thread with less than half of the season played, but Zidane was defiant about his team selection in his post-match press conference.
“I know tomorrow I’m going to be hammered for this but I’m here to make decisions and I have no regrets,” he said.
Madrid had a number of chances to go in front in the first half, with Marc-Andre Ter Stegen saving one Cristiano Ronaldo effort with his feet and Karim Benzema glancing a header against the outside of the post.
“The game would have been different if we’d scored in the first half,” said Zidane. “We didn’t, and that’s football.”
Real Madrid could not muster a response after Dani Carvajal was sent off for a deliberate handball before Messi’s penalty, and Zidane admitted the defeat was a big psychological blow to his side.
“We didn’t even play that badly, which is why this hurts so much. I can’t be happy with how we lost but I still support my players, what they’ve done until now is brilliant. But today we feel devastated.”