Beating FC Barcelona isn’t a small achievement. However, it seems that Real Madrid’s win wasn’t all that positive in retrospect. After losing 2-0 against Wolfsburg in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals, the morale boost has abruptly stopped. Zinedine Zidane is the one who makes the decisions and now we see that he may have been wrong in some of them.
El Clásico isn’t just any match and regardless of the state each team is at, it’s always a match that can surprise. Having been a Real player and appearing in those matches, Zidane understands the importance it has. Nevertheless, he might not have analyzed the consequences of giving the Barça game the same importance as the Wolfsburg one.
By going all out with his ideal 11 at the Camp Nou, the Frenchman put in many players that had just traveled many miles with their national team and even played matches. The level of physical intensity that eventually helped them win left most of the players exhausted.
Because the Champions League is also important, if not more important this season, he had to go all out again. By playing the same lineup, with Danilo being the only exception, Zidane gave Wolfsburg an advantage that may have assisted that 2-0 loss.
Benzema had to leave early because of physical problems, Modrić barely made it past the hour mark and the whole team seemed closer to the 3-0 than the 2-1. In addition, Pepe and Ramos’ mistakes in El Clásico weren’t given much thought. Consequently, Ronaldo and Benzema weren’t able to mask those mistakes In Germany by turning the game around.
Overall, nobody can blame Zidane for trying to save face against the fiercest rival. Even so, being 10 points away before that game, and with the UCL being the title with better odds, he now must realize priorities must be set and players must rest.
Saturday’s La Liga match against Eibar will be a tough one to prepare for Zizou. He must decide if using the top players is necessary, or if sending out a B squad can be the key to reverting the Champions League quarter-finals.