Zinedine Zidane has denied that Real Madrid are out of the La Liga title race after their 0-0 draw with Real Betis, but defender Dani Carvajal admitted the result was a “step backwards” in the battle for the trophy.
Madrid looked tired in the goalless draw on Saturday night which left them two points behind leaders Atletico Madrid, who have a game in hand, and three points ahead of Barcelona, who have played two games fewer.
“No, I don’t think [the league is getting away],” Madrid coach Zidane told Movistar. “They’re two points dropped for us, but I don’t think so. We have to keep going, we tried, we clearly lacked something in attack. We were good defensively but we missed something with the ball. I don’t think the league is over.”
Three of Real Madrid’s last four matches in all competitions have ended 0-0, including La Liga games with Getafe and Betis which saw them drop four points in the title race.
“I don’t think so,” Zidane said, when asked if Barca and Atletico — who play away at Villarreal and Athletic Bilbao on Sunday — would win all of their remaining games. “If it’s like that, we won’t win La Liga… But I don’t think so, the rest are the same as us. I don’t think they’ll win every game. Let’s hope not.”
Full-back Dani Carvajal — who has just returned from his latest injury setback in a stop-start season — sounded a more pessimistic note.
“It’s a step backwards in the fight for the title,” he said. “In the last third we weren’t sharp, we lacked a bit of hunger… It’s a draw that leaves us further from the top, but there are five games and 15 points left, and we’ll see what happens,” he said.
“Today was an opportunity to sleep tonight as leaders and put pressure on Atletico Madrid and Barcelona, and we haven’t done it,” he added. “We feel like an important opportunity has gotten away from us.”
More positive news for Real Madrid was the return from injury of Eden Hazard, who came on for the last 15 minutes to make his first appearance in six weeks.
“He did well, he played with spark and energy,” Zidane said. “The most important thing was that he didn’t feel any discomfort and that’s what happened.”
Madrid host Chelsea on Tuesday night in the first leg of their Champions League semifinal at the Alfredo di Stefano stadium.
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