Zinedine Zidane’s fears that Real Madrid’s lack of intensity at the start of games would eventually cost his team have proved well founded.
On Wednesday night, away against a Valencia side that has endured its worst season in many years, Real showed a defensive frailty that allowed their opponents to score twice in the opening nine minutes on their way to a 2-1 upset of the La Liga leaders.
“That was our fault, ” Real vice-captain Marcelo told the club website. “We started very poorly and there can be no excuses for it.
“We did all we could to at least have got a draw, but we conceded two daft goals and we must learn from our mistakes.”
Just when it seemed Real might establish a stranglehold on the leadership, they find themselves still only one point ahead of defending champions Barcelona and now with just one game in hand.
“We still remain top but we have to change things, we can’t be starting games like that,” Marcelo said.