Real Madrid seek respite from La Liga woes on Wembley debut against Spurs

Zinedine Zidane’s side arrive in London after their worst start in the league since the José Mourinho era but the Champions League has often been their escape

On the plane back from defeat in Girona on Sunday evening Zinedine Zidane went over the game again while in the rows behind him his players quietly watched films or TV series, keen to clear their minds of what had just happened. “It wasn’t a nice feeling,” Sergio Ramos admitted, and it didn’t make for good viewing either. “I’m not worried,” the Real Madrid manager had said as he sat in front of the media after the match; now, as he sat in front of his captain flying west, and with no need to transmit a public message of tranquillity, he might have felt differently.

Madrid’s 2-1 defeat by Girona leaves them trailing La Liga’s leaders Barcelona by eight points as they head to Wembley to face Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League. “The league’s long,” Zidane said and on Monday night Ramos insisted he had overcome eight points before. Actually, he hasn’t: Madrid have never won the title from so far behind and it was not just that they had been defeated; it was that, as the Girona coach, Pablo Machín, insisted, it had been “fully deserved”.

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