Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane has voiced his frustrations after his side drew 1-1 with Levante at the Santiago Bernabeau, in Saturday's early kick-off in La Liga.
Los Blancos dominated possession all game, but fell behind after 12 minutes, after massively failing to deal with a long throw. Lucas Vasquez equalised for the hosts before half-time, poking home a rebound from a Sergio Ramos header.
Despite further applying pressure in the second half, a much-rotated Madrid were unable to unlock Levante's vigilant defence, and had to settle for a second consecutive draw, which sees them already at a disadvantage in the La Liga title race, having drawn 2-2 with Valencia before the international break.
“We can’t be happy with our performance,” the coach said after the game.
“Now we’re four points behind and we have to be a bit concerned. We have to find some solutions because we didn’t play well.
“We lacked a lot today. The starts of games are very important for us and we didn’t start well today. We played against a team that holed themselves up and we didn’t apply enough intensity.
“We have to score first, but they did instead and that’s what bothers me the most. Still, we won’t go crazy and we’ll think about the next game.''
An already experimental side was further hindered when Karim Benzema was substituted with an injury, and Marcelo received a red card for lashing out at Levante's Lerma, late in the second half.
Zidane refuted the claim that his team were unfit, despite the starting line-up being effectively second-string: “It’s not a physical problem. We’re good physically, we showed that in the second half, which was better than the first.
71 - Real Madrid have scored in their last 71 games in all comps, the longest scoring streak ever in the Top 5 European Leagues. Infallible. pic.twitter.com/kCqVQv3hOZ— OptaJose (@OptaJose) September 9, 2017
“The problem was that we didn’t find solutions. We haven’t scored enough goals, so we have to be more clinical.
“Two full-backs, Marcelo and Theo? I'm happy with what they did. We didn’t work as a team, it wasn’t just them.
“We looked for the middle from their flank, but we didn’t find the right finish. I’m not going to change what I’m going to do with this team.
“I’m not going to change. We’re not going to go crazy over one bad game because this is what I believe in and we’ll keep going like this.''
After Benzema's withdrawal, and with Cristiano Ronaldo still suspended, Madrid received a lot of scrutiny about their squad depth, as Gareth Bale had to deputise in a central role:
“No No. 9 other than Benzema? This is the squad we have and we have no choice but to look for solutions within this squad.
“Cristiano and Benzema weren’t there and that can’t be changed. Still, I’m not worried about that.
Despite the resoluteness of the visitors' back line, Madrid had several great chances, with Toni Kroos, Bale, and wonderkid Marcos Asensio all failing to capitalise on good chances. The Frenchman lamented these misses, telling ESPN :
“We have to be more clinical. What we can’t be happy with is what we did in the game today. We want to play better in order to pick up more points.
“We can’t be happy, especially with the first half. We dropped two points, we had a good game at Depor, but not today. We improved in the second half, but we can’t be happy.
“We have to turn things around, not just the results. We must play better. We have to forget what happened to us today, analyse it and look for solutions within this squad.”