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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 December 2018

Zidane: Real Madrid must stay 'positive' despite shock Villarreal defeat

Goal from Pablo Fornals consigns the Primera Liga champions to a fourth loss of the season.

Zinedine Zidane was frustrated by Real Madrid's loss to Villarreal. Gabriel Bouys / AFP
Zinedine Zidane was frustrated by Real Madrid's loss to Villarreal. Gabriel Bouys / AFP

Zinedine Zidane appealed for Real Madrid fans to try and stay “positive” despite the club’s slim hopes of retaining their Primera Liga title taking another dent on Saturday with a 1-0 home loss to Villarreal.

Zidane’s men, who are fourth, remain 16 points adrift of leaders Barcelona in the table after their fourth league loss of the season, which came thanks to Pablo Fornals’s goal three minutes from time.

That gap could increase to 19 points, with 15 matches of the season remaining, if Barcelona are victorious at Real Sociedad tonight.

Zidane is under pressure despite winning five trophies as manager with Real in 2017, and he felt that his side had been unfortunate to lose, having seen Villarreal goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo make a string of fine saves throughout the match to deny Cristiano Ronaldo, while Gareth Bale had a goal disallowed for offside during the first half.

Zidane told reporters: “The result is undeserving and difficult because we had many chances but the ball didn’t want to go in. This bothers all of us.

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“We played well and we don’t deserve this but it is what it is. Within all the negative, we have to look for something positive and something we have.”

Real still have much to play for, despite their league hopes appearing to be in tatters.

They are in the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey and face Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16 of the Uefa Champions League next month and Zidane vowed his players would bounce back from their poor run of form, which has seen them pick up just one point from their past three games.

“The players will not drop their arms,” he added of his squad. “It’s not easy for the players when the chances don’t go in.

“My message is to keep going forward. In football, there are bad runs and we will change that together as a team. We can do that in the next game.”

The Frenchman admitted he was baffled by how his side had come away pointless from the clash at the Bernabeu.

“We did everything and there is no explanation as to why the ball didn’t go in,” he said.

“Bad runs are like that and is difficult for the players. I can’t criticise them for anything. It’s a bad moment and that’s it.

“But football is like this, and everything goes the other way. We will not drop our arms. We will continue fighting because there is a game on Thursday and we can change things.”