Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane braced himself for a chorus of criticism for his team selection after their humiliating 3-0 defeat at home by Barcelona on Saturday night which saw the Catalans widen the gulf between the two rivals in the Liga standings to 14 points.
Barca took Real Madrid to the cleaners after a tight start. Goals from Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi and Aleix Vidal rounded off a stunning first half of the season for Barcelona.
The Frenchman accepted responsibility for the El Clásico defeat, saying “We made a mistake and defended poorly and at this level that’s significant.”
However, he insisted his side will come back stronger in the new year after La Liga’s winter break and refused to concede the league to Barca.
He stated post-match press conference, “We are down because it is a defeat that hurts. “Madrid never give up, whatever happens. It is a difficult moment because we’ve lost by three goals. I could say we don’t deserve it, but that is football.”
The French coach made the surprising decision to play Mateo Kovacic in place of Isco to strengthen the midfield, but after a strong first half display, his side were repeatedly ripped apart on the counter-attack by Barca.
Zidane added, “Tomorrow they are going to hammer me, that is football but it won’t change how I think or what I do.”
The 12-time Champions League holders face Paris Saint-Germain in a mouthwatering last-16 tie in February and are still in the Copa del Rey.