‘Nightmare at Wembley’: Spanish press let loose on Real Madrid
Spurs deepen Real ‘crisis’ and heap pressure on Zidane
If Zinedine Zidane was in any doubt that Real Madrid are in crisis after the Champions League group stage defeat to Tottenham at Wembley then a glance at Thursday morning’s newspapers would surely have brought home the reality.
The Frenchman has presided over Madrid’s worst start to the season since José Mourinho left the club in 2012, with his side already eight points behind Barcelona in La Liga and now facing the prospect of not finishing top of their Champions League group for the second successive season after the 3-1 defeat.
“Nightmare at Wembley,” screams the headline on Madrid-based newspaper AS, with a picture of a peeved-looking Sergio Ramos, Nacho and goalkeeper Kiko Casilla. The same picture features on the front cover of Marca, with the damning headline “Sound all the alarms” highlighting the difficulties Zidane’s side have faced since winning an historic 12th European title in June, having also suffered defeat to newly-promoted side Girona at the weekend.
“Real Madrid have transferred their crisis to Europe, where the sun always comes out, where they can always escape the storm,” wrote Jesús Sánchez. “But at Wembley they unloaded all the clouds that appeared in Girona, even in the favourite competition of Los Blancos, who had gone 30 games without losing in the group stage of the Champions League. “Tottenham, vibrant in their performance, destroyed the champions after a fantastic second half when they imposed their speed and punch to burst all the fragile seams of the team that was the envy of the continent but has now become vulgar and easy to beat.”
The verdict from El Pais’s José Sámano was even more damaging, describing the result as evidence that Zidane’s team “is gone”. “They have become a fatiguing team, without flow in the midfield, bitter in attack and cracked in defence,” he wrote. Only Isco, who for the second match in a row appeared to be the only Madrid player on his game, escapes criticism, with an article on the AS website even highlighting that Marcelo had lost the ball an incredible 29 times during the defeat, following on from 16 against Girona.
Luka Modric and Toni Kroos are also singled out for their performance against Tottenham’s young English midfield comprising of Harry Winks and Eric Dier, with the Germany international described by AS’s Javier Silles described “the personification of the problems Real Madrid are going through”. Having found the net just once so far this season after signing a lucrative new four-year contract in September, Karim Benzema does not escape either, with Tomás Roncero styling him as “the first striker in the club’s history who doesn’t need to score goals”.
Of course, the Catalan press wasted no time getting their digs in, with Josep M. Artells in Mundo Deportivo suggesting that former Espanyol manager Mauricio Pochettino had performed the perfect audition in front of Real Madrid’s president, Florentino Pérez. “Pochettino winked at Florentino with an approach that overwhelmed his opponent,” he wrote.
Dele Alli also caught the eye, with Ivan San Antonio of Sport describing the England midfielder’s performance as his “coming out party”.
He added: “Tottenham put together a game that was intense, without rest, no time to think or even breathe.”