Zinedine Zidane has rued Real Madrid's lack of focus during the first 10 minutes of the 2-1 defeat to Valencia on Wednesday night (22 February) as Los Blancos missed a golden opportunity to increase their gap over Barcelona at the top of La Liga table.
Real Madrid visited Mestalla for an encounter corresponding to the match week 16, which was postponed due to their partition in the Club World Cup. Los Blancos had thus the opportunity to increase their margin over Barcelona at the top of the table to four points, having still another one game in hand against Celta Vigo.
However, two earlier goals from Simone Zaza and Fabian Orellana in the first 10 minutes of the game condemned Los Blancos to a surprising 2-1 defeat at the stadium of the 14th-placed of La Liga table.
Cristiano Ronaldo reduced the gap just before half-time but Real Madrid were unable to find a second goal and stay only one point ahead of Barcelona at the top of La Liga table.
"We lost the game in the first ten minutes. We moved the ball well, played our game and created chances to score. We made mistakes and they scored twice," a disappointed Zidane said in the press conference following the defeat. "We then had 80 minutes to get back into the game, we did that but we were lacking in many areas today. We had the chance to put points on the board and we've not managed to do that. They were very much together in their play, tightened up well and got the better of us up top.
"We have to stay switched on at all times. If you lose concentration for a moment, they punish you. We need to be a bit sharper and we didn't have our heads in the game in the first ten minutes. We did some good things with the ball but we lacked a bit of clarity with the final pass."
Real Madrid would have put the La Liga race almost to bed had they won at Valencia. However, they now give Barcelona an opportunity to react ahead of a crucial weekend in which the Catalans visit Atletico Madrid and Los Blancos face Villarreal.
Zidane sent his players a warning ahead of the coming trip to the Yellow Submarine after pointing out that Real Madrid will not win there either if they are not fully focused.
"Now we have to rest up and think about Sunday's game. We had a chance to put points on the board but we didn't do so. Congratulations to Valencia and attentions now turn to the next game," Zidane said.
"Things have now become tougher after we failed to get the three points. Valencia were the only team to put points on the board today. We need to bear in mind that we can't win games just by turning up. We're not looking for excuses, we simply have to turn our attentions to the next game."