Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane has admitted that he is troubled by the growing injury concerns at the club this season.
Los Blancos were unbeaten since the start of the campaign, but saw their run snapped last week against Sevilla. Furthermore, they succumbed to another defeat at the hands of Celta Vigo, and it appeared to be a mini-crisis at the Santiago Bernabeu.
However, those fears were put to bed when Real returned to winning ways by beating Malaga on Saturday. It was far from a convincing scoreline and the Spanish giants had to rely on the goal-scoring prowess of defender Sergio Ramos to pick up the three points.
Malaga started the game in a highly-structured shape as they were aware of their opponent’s attacking strengths. Despite the absence of Gareth Bale, an attack bolstered by the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Lucas Vazquez is certain to give any defence a nightmare.
However, none of the three front men managed to find the back of the net on the day as Zidane’s men relied on the services of defender and captain Sergio Ramos to come up with the answers.
The Spanish centre-back scored twice in the final 10 minutes of the first half to give Real a comfortable 2-0 lead at half-time. Toni Kroos was the provider for both goals as his set pieces were well met by Ramos who found the back of the net on both occasions.
Malaga came back strong in the second half with Juanpi Anor scoring in the 63rd minute, but Real held on to a slender one-goal cushion to pick up a victory after three matches. However, the down side for them was that two key firs-team players in Luka Modric and Marcelo picked up injuries, and Danilo missed the game through illness.
This, undoubtedly, left manager Zinedine Zidane fuming at the fact of the number of unavailable players. Speaking in the post-match press conference, the Frenchman said, “Luka has an issue, some discomfort. We hope it is not serious. We will see on Sunday with a scan. We don’t know the exact problem yet.
“Marcelo’s injury is more complicated and they will both undergo more tests.
“Danilo felt discomfort after Friday’s training and in the morning wasn’t feeling well so we decided to rest him. I am a bit upset with the injuries. My mind is a bit blown. We have a big game Wednesday and injuries are screwing it up.”
It was a disappointing day for Cristiano Ronaldo in front of goal as he hit the woodwork and was denied by Malaga keeper Carlos Kameni on three occasions. He has not had the best of starts to the new year, and manager Zidane has called for the Real fans to cut him a bit of slack.
According to Sky Sports, he said, “Sometimes when you have difficulties you need the fans’ help and to be behind you. I am not going to criticise the fans because they pay their money.
“But with so many games and a lot of injuries, the players need to feel that love sometimes. The coach does too.”
Real remain atop the La Liga table with 43 points – four points clear of Sevilla in second. Barcelona find themselves in an unfamiliar third place as they are five points adrift of leaders Real Madrid.