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Zidane: “I’m responsible for the first half, it wasn’t the players’ fault”

The coach shouldered the blame for the ineffective first half display in the derby.

Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid - La Liga Santander Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

Real Madrid were able to win the derby against Atlético Madrid, helped by a half time change from Zinedine Zidane that saw them much improved in the second 45 minutes. The coach reflected afterwards on his decision to swap Isco and Toni Kroos for Vinícius and Lucas Vázquez in the break. “I wasn’t happy with what I saw on the pitch in the first half,” he said in his post-match press conference. “It wasn’t the players’ fault. It was mine. So I changed Isco and Kroos, but I could have changed two others players. It was just that we needed to make a change to play in a different manner. We were much better in all aspects afterwards. There was more intensity. But I repeat, the responsibility for the first half is mine.”

The system change was reflected on further and it was put to Zidane that Real Madrid might be better playing in a 4-3-3 than with a five-man midfield. Yet he disputed this. “No, because we were really good against Valencia in the Spanish Supercup,” he replied. “Today, it didn’t work. I’m the one who is responsible for that.”

Vinícius was excellent when he came on and he combined well with Ferland Mendy for the goal that Kairm Benzema scored. “They did well,” Zidane said of the Brazilian and the Frenchman. “They both worked hard. The goal says it all. I think there was also a good connection between Lucas Vázquez and Dani Carvajal on the other side.”

Zidane explained that he was extra delighted to win because of the significance of winning a derby: “A derby is always special and complicated. Against a team that defends really well, this was a good win. I think it was a deserved victory and three points.”

Finally, the coach was asked about the potential penalty on Álvaro Morata in the first half, but didn’t want to get into that discussion. “I’ve not seen it,” he said. “As always, I won’t get involved in this. The referee was better placed.”

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