Saturday, April 8, 2017

Real Madrid 'did not defend well' for Griezmann equaliser

Janusz Michallik thinks Real Madrid and Atletico were more concerned with their upcoming UCL bouts than the Madrid derby.

Catch the 2nd goal scored by the french player Antoine Griezmann, in the match played between Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid

Catch the 1st goal scored by Kepler Laveran Lima Ferreira, commonly known as Pepe of Real Madrid, in the match played between Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said he was "disappointed" and blamed a "lack of concentration" as his team dropped two points by drawing 1-1 at home to Atletico Madrid in Saturday afternoon's La Liga derbi.

Madrid had seemed set for a victory which would have maintained their control of the title race thanks to Pepe's header early in the second half, but Atletico forward Antoine Griezmann equalised with just five minutes left to shock the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu and hand a lifeline to Barcelona in the title race.

Second-placed Barca can now go joint top of the table should they win at Malaga later on Saturday, although the Catalans will then have played a game more, setting things up for April 23's Clasico meeting at the Bernabeu.

Speaking at his postmatch news conference, the Los Blancos coach did not hide his disappointment at two points dropped but said the title race would go down to the wire.

"I saw the goal, and we did not defend well," Zidane said. "It was a ball behind and we were badly positioned. We will have to analyse the details. Today we are all a bit disappointed. It is a draw, but we have dropped two points. We could easily have taken the three points with the game we played. We deserved a bit more, but this is football. There will be a title race right until the end. Nothing has changed."

Zidane said that his team's performance over the 90 minutes had merited a victory, as his team had outplayed Atletico, up until their late mistake.

"We played a great game, but we lacked some concentration in the last five minutes," he said. "You cannot say that Atletico played a good game today, and we did. We needed to score the second goal, to be more relaxed. We suffered in the end, defended badly, and in one play they can make it difficult for you."

Pepe gave Real Madrid the lead in the second half.

Zidane had made all three changes by the time the equaliser arrived, with Nacho Fernandez replacing goal scorer Pepe due to a rib injury, and Isco and Lucas Vazquez coming on for Toni Kroos and Gareth Bale.

The issue which allowed Atletico to level was not related to these substitutions, Zidane said, and he was sure his team would bounce back for Wednesday's Champions League quarterfinal first leg at Bayern Munich.

"Always when there is a negative result, you can look back at the changes made," he said. "We had to change Pepe as he could not continue. In the end I wanted to put in Isco, to have the ball a bit more. We did not lack anything physically, we lacked concentration, to defend together, with more energy. We will be relaxed, and move on and think about Wednesday's game. We will go there and look to win, as always."

On Friday, Zidane had surprised reporters bysaying he was not sure if he would still be Madrid coach next season, and the coach dodged the question when asked if he felt he needed to win either the La Liga or Champions League trophy to survive in the job.

"You would have to ask somebody else that," he said. "I am the coach, and I am excited about the job and know how important it is. I will not speculate about anything else, just do my job from day to day."

Atletico Madrid keeper Jan Oblak helped keep Real's lead to one goal before Antoine Griezmann equalised.

Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone hailed Griezmann's rare mix of talent and hard work after the forward's calmly taken late equaliser.

Atletico seemed set for a first Liga defeat in five years at the Bernabeu before the France international struck a big blow to Madrid's title chances.

Reported Manchester United target Griezmann had been his team's main attacking threat throughout and the Colchoneros coach told his postmatch news conference that it was fantastic to have a creative star player who made such an effort for his teammates.

"There are no words for a player who has what Antoine has," Simeone said. "He works hard, he comes back, he gets into the area, he is all over the field. Among the players who have real talent, it is even more difficult to find someone like this. When a talented player gives the effort that Griezmann does, then it is fantastic. He played an enormous game today - but so did [Stefan] Savic and [Diego] Godin, Filipe Luis, Gabi."

Told that Zidane had said his side had deserved to win having been much the better team, Simeone responded by saying his team had finished the 90 minutes much stronger and might even have taken the victory.

"We got a good result, and we leave with the feeling we might have won," he said. "[Madrid] did not have big chances, although they were dominating the play. We suffered for 20 or 25 minutes. Then the substitutions gave us more movement in the centre of the pitch. In the end we had a bitter taste as we were close to winning the game."

At 1-0 down Simeone had surprisingly removed centre-forward Fernando Torres and sent on midfielder Thomas Partey, but the substitution paid off as it moved Angel Correa centrally and the youngster provided the assist for the equalising goal.

"It is instinct about what you feel the team needs," Simeone said. "Fernando played a super game, pressed, fought, and forced great save from their keeper. But it was what we wanted to do, move Correa closer to Griezmann."

Next up for Atletico is Wednesday's Champions League quarterfinal first leg at home to Leicester City, who look revitalised under new manager Craig Shakespeare and have won their last six games in all competitions.

"We see a team who were capable of winning the Premier League," Simeone said. "And they have turned around the difficulties they had. We are taking on a different team than the one we got in the draw. They are a tough team, strong team, who work hard. In some aspects they are similar to us."

Culled from espnfc.ng.com

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