Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said he was sick of hearing negative things about his team in the build-up to this game.
After watching his side lose 1-0 to Villarreal he might need to borrow some super-sized headphones from one of his players.
The criticism is not about to subside.
Madrid missed chance after chance in the first half and paid the price in the second 45 minutes when Villarreal raced away to score the winner with three minutes left. Barcelona could be 19 points clear of them if they beat Real Sociedad tomorrow.
Pablo Fornals chipped Keylor Navas for the goal after the keeper had saved well from Enes Unal following Denis Cheryshev’ breakaway and cross from the left.
There was a hint of offside but there was also a complete lack of conviction in the way Madrid tracked back the lightning attack and total belief in the Villarreal forwards who had turned defending a corner into a goal.
With the rain coming down on a drenched Zidane in his technical area the megaphone played the Madrid hymn on full-time drowning out the whistles from those in the stadium who had not already left the ground. But there will be nothing to drown out the critics who will now go for the Madrid coach.
As well as Real Madrid facing the possibility of being 19 points behind leaders Barcelona by tomorrow, they could also be level fourth with Sevilla who play tomorrow knowing they can now endanger Madrid’s position in the top four Champions League places.
Villarreal in sixth, also moved to within a point of Madrid.
‘It’s not attitude’ said defender Nacho after the game. ‘They caught us out for the goal, we were disorganized.’ All this came after a positive first half.
Zidane and the players had a clear the air meeting in midweek and it was evident that greater urgency had been called for. They snapped into tackles and pressured Villarreal in the opening exchanges but they could not find the goal.
They came into the game on 32 goals in 17 games – the worst return in 11 seasons and there were no signs that they would improve on the dismal record.
Cristiano Ronaldo was the principal culprit. He has just four goals in the league this season and has missed chances that in previous seasons he would have buried already with his hands raised in celebration winking at the crowd.
He had one free-kick brilliantly saved by Sergio Asenjo and he then shot into the side netting with Modric in space hoping for a pass. He then had an effort from the edge of the six-yard saved by Asenjo.
There were appeals that Mario Gaspart had clipped Ronaldo before he shot but he had gone for goal instead of to ground and so the referee ignored appeals.
Up front with Ronaldo, Gareth Bale was lively and he scored from Ronaldo’s flick-on from a corner but he was offside. Madrid were creating chances but they were unlucky.
Bale curled a shot just wide and might have won a penalty when Alvaro Gonzalez handled a Bale header but the referee again turned down the claims.
In the second half Madrid lost some of that early intensity and with 20 minutes left Bale and Isco were replaced by Lucas Vazquez.
The substitutes snatched at chances just as Ronaldo had throughout the first period and Fornals gleefully showed the home side how it was done with that cool finish on 87 minutes to ensure another defeat for Madrid