BARCELONA: Barcelona and Real Madrid lost for the first time this season on Saturday against modest La Liga opposition, increasing the doubts over their stalled attacks ahead of Champions League openers and their own Clasico clash next weekend.
Zinedine Zidane made four substitutions at half-time but could not spark a lethargic Real into life as his team fell 1-0 at home to newly-promoted Cadiz.
Then two hours later on the opposite side of the city, Ronald Koeman tasted his first competitive loss as coach of Barca as they followed Real’s example by being beaten 1-0 by Getafe at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez.
The star-powered attacks of the European powerhouses appeared shackled by their opponents. While Getafe lived up to their reputation as one of Spain’s top defensive sides by shutting down Barca, Real were sloppy and sluggish against an inspired Cadiz side that is back in the top flight after 15 seasons.
Sevilla also lost before they visit Chelsea in the Champions League on Tuesday, leaving Atletico Madrid, who had earlier beaten Celta Vigo 2-0, as the only one of Spain’s top teams to celebrate a victory. They face Bayern Munich on Wednesday.
Barca didn’t have many chances, but they were good ones. Lionel Messi hit the upright in the 20th and Antoine Griezmann wasted a great opportunity on the half-hour mark.
After that, Getafe tightened its marking and Barca didn’t threaten again until Djene Dakonam almost scored an own-goal late when he cleared a cross onto the crossbar.
Jaime Mata converted a penalty kick for Getafe in the 56th minute after Frenkie de Jong fouled Dakonam on the edge of the area while trying to clear a loose ball.
“We knew it was going to be a hard match, “ Barca midfielder Sergio Busquets said. “We wanted to play at a faster pace, and we tried, but once they went ahead it became even tougher. We have to keep working to improve. This has just started.”
Barca host Hungarian club Ferencvaros in the Champions League on Tuesday.
Zidane was at a loss for his teams performance against Cadiz.
Led by 35-year-old striker Alvaro Negredo, Cadiz proved more dangerous than Real, particularly in the first half when the visitors could have gone into the interval with a two-goal advantage.
Negredo set up Anthony Lozano to chip the game’s only goal over Thibaut Courtois in the 16th. Sergio Ramos had already stopped a shot from Negredo, and Courtois made several more saves before halftime.
Karim Benzema had Real’s only good chance to equalise when he hit the crossbar with eight minutes remaining.
Ramos had a knock to the left knee during a clash with Lozano that forced him to be substituted at halftime, casting doubt on his availability for Real’s Champions League opener against Shaktar Donetsk on Wednesday.
“There is no explanation for what we did today,” Zidane said. “We played a bad match, above all at the start, but it was bad in every way. We weren’t hustling, we had difficulties from start to finish Our rival deserved to win. If they had scored two or three in the first half it wouldn’t have been a surprise.”
This is Cadiz’s first victory over Real in 29 years. Their reward is second place in the table, denied top spot by their opponents only due to goal difference.
Earlier, Luis Suarez partnered Diego Costa for the first time and scored as Atletico beat struggling Celta.
But the Suarez-Costa combination came to an early end as Costa was forced off injured in the second half.
Sitting in the stands, Costa was seen with his face in his hands and he seems likely now to miss the game against Bayern.
Suarez had earlier finished off a sweeping move down the left before Yannick Carrasco made sure of the victory in injury-time, heading in after Joao Felix’s effort came back off the crossbar.
Atletico climb to fourth, two points behind Real and one ahead of Barca.
Granada beat 10-man Sevilla 1-0 after Yangel Herrera broke the deadlock with a header with eight minutes to go. Joan Jordan left Sevilla a man down after two bookings for back-to-back fouls in first-half stoppage time.
Published in Dawn, October 19th, 2020