Real Madrid boss Zidane demands more from players after Leganes draw

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The Real Madrid boss was not a happy man after the 1-1 draw.

Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane declared he and his players had a duty to improve after they were held 1-1 at Leganes.

Jonathan Silva fired Leganes into the lead on the stroke of half-time before Karim Benzema‘s 27th goal of the season in all competitions hauled Real level early in the second period.

It was another lacklustre display from Zidane’s side, who have little left to play for this season, save for a fight with city rivals Atletico Madrid for second place, after being knocked out of the Champions League and Copa del Rey.

“I as the coach and they as the players have to try,” Zidane told a press conference. “We have to try and perform better because it’s our duty.

“We didn’t have a good first half, but improved after the break. We all have to give a bit more.”

Benzema has scored seven goals in Real’s last six league games and Zidane paid tribute to the France striker as speculation mounts over his future.

“Benzema is having a very good season, particularly as far as goals are concerned,” Zidane said. “He’s a fantastic player and this season he’s scoring far more goals. I’m delighted for him.

“He’s used to rumours, but that won’t change anything for him. He’s shown his character and he’s doing a good job for the team.”

Gareth Bale was introduced as an 81st-minute substitute and made little impact.

“Bale is an important player in this squad,” added Zidane, who gave the Wales forward no assurances over his future last week after he had been booed off at the end of Real’s narrow win over Eibar.

“I wanted to make changes today and that’s it. It’s difficult to get into a game when you only play 10 or 15 minutes, but substitutions are made to change the game and we were unable to do that.”

Leganes are unbeaten in their last four games and have moved up three places to 11th in the table, but boss Mauricio Pellegrino is not yet satisfied.

“We will try to do our best until the end of the season,” he told a press conference. “It’s not the same for the club to go 10th and 16th, we’ll go for more.

“The team has been competing well, better and better. We are going from less to more and it is good news for the family of peppers.”

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Real Madrid player ratings as Benzema scores a 7 while Isco gets a 6

Andy West 16/04/2019
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Karim Benzema bagged the equaliser for Real Madrid.

Real Madrid dropped more points with a 1-1 local derby draw at Leganes on Monday night.

Karim Benzema got his team back on level terms after a fine early strike from Jonathan Silva.

Check out our Los Blancos ratings here.

Real Madrid (4-3-3)

Navas 6. Had nothing to do before picking the ball out of his net, and he had no chance with that. Rarely troubled after that.

Carvajal 6. Back from injury and offered a consistent outlet down the right, but rusty with his delivery into the box.

Varane 7. Sharp and decisive, anticipating well to cut out danger including a key last-minute tackle on En-Nesyri.

Nacho 5. Looked vulnerable under Leganes’s long aerial balls into the box, beaten in the air ahead of Leganes’s goal.

Marcelo 6. Rather haphazard with some loose touches, and vulnerable defensively. Came close with a late drive.

Valverde 6. Hard-working and energetic, but not always precise with his distribution. Faded as the game went on.

Casemiro 6. Held his position in front of the back four, steadily helping his team control the centre of the field.

Modric 7. Quiet until setting up the equaliser for Benzema with a great pass and much more influential in the second half.

Modric's influence grew in the second half.

Modric’s influence grew in the second half.

Asensio 6. Could have made more of an early shot and proceeded to have more efforts on goal but lacked a clinical finish.

Isco 6. Pulled the strings with clever passing and had plenty of touches of the ball, with most things going through him.

Benzema 7. Showed some classy touches including another goal, slotting home a rebound, and a through ball for Asensio.

Substitutes

Vazquez 6. Replaced Isco for the final 15 minutes and busied himself with some bright touches down the left.

Bale 4. Came on for Asensio with ten minutes remaining but was practically invisible, making no contribution.

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Barcelona's fringe players flounder as Ousmane Dembele returns and other talking points from Huesca draw

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Ousmane Dembele made his first start for Barcelona in over a month as they travelled to Huesca, but an otherwise severely depleted side could only manage a goalless draw against the La Liga struggles on Saturday.

Ahead of their second leg Champions League quarter-final tie with Manchester United, the Catalans’ lead at the top of the Spanish flight gave them the luxury to shuffle the pack as they attempt to defend a 1-0 first leg advantage against the Premier League outfit in midweek.

Dembele, who was an unused substitute at Old Trafford, could well feature in the return leg having been hooked after 68 minutes in Huesca.

DRAW FOR BARCA, DOOM FOR UNITED

Huesca would’ve been pleased with the Barcelona starting XI when the team sheets were released. Ernesto Valverde essentially fielded his ‘B’ team in which the likes of Ousmane Dembele, Marc-Andre ter Stegen and even Samuel Umtiti looked out of place.

Given the 11-point advantage the Catalans held over second-placed Atletico Madrid heading into the fixture, playing a depleted team with the midweek clash against United in mind was a perfectly viable option.

Of course, they would’ve preferred to leave Huesca with another three points in the bag but in the grand scheme of things, they’ll accept the draw and move on to more pressing issues.

The draw for Barca spells doom for United. As if showing up at Camp Nou and attempting to recover from a 1-0 deficit against the Spanish giants wasn’t daunting enough, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men must now do so with their opponents rested and refreshed.

Well rested: Barca's big guns

Well rested: Barca’s big guns.

FRINGE PLAYERS FLOUNDER

For many of the XI who took the field for Barca on Saturday evening, this was a rare starting berth. Against the team rooted to the bottom of La Liga, it was also an opportunity to shine. Sadly, no one really seized the day and it passed them by without incident or excitement.

There were a couple of encouraging displays from debutants Riqui Puig and Moussa Wague, playing on either flank of a 3-5-2 formation. The Spaniard set up Dembele for the best chance of the game, sliding a through ball into his path but the Frenchman was unable to beat Roberto Santamarina in goal.

Wague on the other hand was a constant and considerable threat down the right side, generating plenty of width while boasting good pace and skill. He even played two key passes, joint-top along with Dembele. Jean-Clair Todibo also impressed in a back three, particularly with a last ditch tackle on Ezequiel Avila in the closing stages.

Meanwhile, it was another disappointing outing for January signing Kevin-Prince Boateng who was barely involved. Carles Alena would’ve been vying for inclusion against United but he was uncharacteristically sloppy in possession, losing the ball six times.

Playing in an unfamiliar central midfield role, Malcom was nowhere near as effective as he can be. It was a chance for these fringe players to prove their worth but few will have left a lasting impression.

Carles Alena

HUESCA HOLD THEIR OWN

Yes, they were playing a significantly weakened Barcelona side but after the 8-2 thrashing they suffered at Camp Nou earlier this season, the encounter at El Alcoraz was a marked improvement.

On paper, they set up in a 4-3-3 formation but with Christian Rivera playing as a sweeper in front of the defence and sitting increasingly deeper, it was really a back five and a flat one at that.

That said, their defensive performance will have encouraged manager Francisco Rodriguez for it’s in that department that they’ve let themselves down. A tally of 35 goals this season is a respectable one and seven have come in the last three games, including two at Real Madrid.

So even though Huesca sit bottom with 25 points, they are only five away from 17th-placed Valladolid (though they have a game in hand) and more decent displays at the back could yet secure survival. With games against Rayo Vallecano, Eibar and Villarreal up next, Huesca have hope yet.

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