Real Madrid suffered a thrashing at the hands of rivals Atletico Madrid in New Jersey on Friday, but the defeat has been played down by Zinedine Zidane and Sergio Ramos.
Los Blancos were outplayed and stunned early on in their 7-3 defeat, with Diego Costa scoring four goals while Diego Simeone’s side were 5-0 up by half-time.
Regardless of whether it’s pre-season or not, that is a damaging result and one that the fans will certainly not accept, especially with expectations so high ahead of the new campaign as Zidane is expected to lead them back into contention for major trophies this season.
The French tactician and his captain were both keen to avoid the setback from escalating into a bigger issue, and insisted that they simply got their approach wrong as while they treated the encounter like a friendly, Atleti came out firing and beat them in all areas of the game.
"We have motivation and hunger," Zidane is quoted as saying by AS. "Today, it was a friendly for us but not for Atlético. I am convinced that this team will do good things this season and we will see that quickly."
Meanwhile, Ramos echoed his thoughts by adding: "We must continue working with the right attitude. They approached the game as if it were a final. They beat us in intensity and were very good in front of goal," he said, as per Marca.
That could be interpreted as a subtle swipe at their rivals for taking the game so seriously, but Atleti will be delighted with the result regardless.
Real Madrid have just two more pre-season friendlies before the start of the La Liga campaign when they travel to Celta Vigo on August 17.
With that in mind, there isn’t long to find out if this was merely a pre-season malaise and whether or not they will be able to step it up and make a positive start to competitive action with the pressure building already after their summer spending spree saw the likes of Eden Hazard, Luka Jovic, Ferland Mendy and Eder Militao join the club.