Real Madrid vs Celta Vigo: Zinedine Zidane brought Real Madrid’s outcasts in from the cold and they repaid him with a win in his first game back as Isco and Gareth Bale each scored in a 2-0 victory over Celta Vigo on Saturday.
Isco had not started a single La Liga game under Santiago Solari but opened the scoring here shortly after the hour, before Bale got the goal his own committed display deserved to put sorry Celta out of sight.
Bale was teed up by Marcelo, who was also dropped by Solari but recalled, while Keylor Navas pulled off a superb save in the first half, having been brought back ahead of Thibaut Courtois.
Even Marco Asensio has been almost anonymous through Madrid’s troubles this season and he seemed rejuvenated too, his weaving run leading to the opener from Isco, who was otherwise the quietest of Zidane’s recovering group.
The victory ends a run of four consecutive home defeats and means Madrid reduce the gap to nine points behind Barcelona, who play away at Real Betis on Sunday.
That deficit will surely prove too big to close but Zidane’s job is to restore morale in the 11 league games that are left and to find out what, and who, needs changing in the summer.
At times, this felt like a pre-season fixture, not just because of the baking hot sun but the relaxed atmosphere and the sense this is now a team on trial.
Bale, whose relationship with Zidane deteriorated to breaking point last season, was arguably the biggest winner, his performance proving there could yet be a place for him in what the club’s president Florentino Perez has dubbed “the glorious new era”.
Marcelo impressed too while Courtois might well wonder what his next couple of months hold, given Navas, an old favourite of Zidane, looks to be back in favour.
Zidane had enjoyed his press conference on Friday, joking with journalists about their changed hairstyles and smirking as he admitted he had given the same answers before.
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