Madrid (AFP) – Zinedine Zidane made four substitutions at half-time on Saturday but could not spark Real Madrid into life as his team slipped to a 1-0 defeat by newly-promoted Cadiz in La Liga with the French coach insisting “there are no excuses”.
Sergio Ramos was the only enforced change at the Alfredo di Stefano Stadium as Madrid’s captain spent the second half in the stands with ice strapped around his left knee.
Madrid said the injury was not serious but it puts in doubt Ramos’ involvement in their first Champions League game against Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday, as well as the Clasico three days later.
“Hopefully it’s minor, said Zidane. “Tomorrow we’ll see what he has done.”
A prolonged absence for Ramos would cap a deflating night for the reignings Spanish champions, whose dreary display certainly hands an early boost to their title rivals.
If Barcelona’s players were watching, they might well feel this Madrid are there for the taking when they meet at Camp Nou next weekend.
Atletico Madrid had earlier beaten Celta Vigo 2-0, with Luis Suarez opening the scoring at Balaidos, while Barca were about to face Getafe.
“There is no explanation,” said Zidane. “If they scored two or three goals in the first half, we couldn’t have complained. There are no excuses.”
This is Cadiz’s first season in the top flight in 14 years and their first victory over Real Madrid in 29, yet they could have won by more.
Their reward is second place in the table, denied top spot by their opponents only due to goal difference.
Isco, Luka Modric and Lucas Vazquez were the other three players to be hauled off by Zidane, who was reacting to a particularly poor display from his side in the first half.
Eder Militao, Casemiro, Fede Valverde and Marco Asensio came on while a surprised-looking Toni Kroos also departed in the second period, replaced by Luka Jovic.
But Madrid’s performance hardly improved and by the end they had managed just two shots on target.
Cadiz could have been three up in the first quarter of an hour as Ramos prevented Alvaro Negredo’s finish from rolling in before Negredo created the opener.
His cushioned header put through Anthony Lozano, who skipped beyond Madrid’s sleepy defence and poked over the onrushing Thibaut Courtois.
Madrid might have equalised in the second half as Vinicius Junior headed wide of an open goal and Karim Benzema rattled the crossbar with a long-range shot. But Cadiz were not overly troubled.
Earlier, Suarez partnered Diego Costa for the first time and scored as Atletico Madrid beat struggling Celta Vigo.
But after some encouraging moments, the Suarez-Costa combination came to an early end as Costa was forced off injured in the second half.
“I liked the mix of the two,” said Diego Simeone.
“Their characteristics mean they can play together. They give us strength and presence and personality in the penalty area. It’s one of the options the team has.”
– ‘Try to adapt’ –
Sitting in the stands, Costa was seen with his face in his hands and he seems likely now to miss Atletico’s Champions League opener at Bayern Munich on Wednesday.
Suarez had earlier finished off a sweeping move down the left before Yannick Carrasco made sure of the victory in injury-time, heading in after Joao Felix’s effort came back off the crossbar.
There was also a debut for Lucas Torreira, the Uruguayan signed on loan from Arsenal, who was energetic and tidy in central midfield, despite feeling some cramp late on.
Atletico climb to fourth, two points behind Real Madrid and one ahead of Barcelona. Celta, meanwhile, have managed only one win from their first six games and sit 13th.
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