Struggling Real Madrid: Zinedine Zidane facing his toughest test

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Zinedine Zidane reserved his own fright night for All Saints’ Day and sent out a side with so many individual sinners that they barely resembled the reigning European and Spanish champions. Yesterday was a night that will haunt Real Madrid, who turned in a Wembley performance more shocking than anything the previous evening’s reputation could possibly have conjured.

Tottenham Hotspur announced their arrival among Europe’s elite with a sparkling performance. For Real Madrid side, the popping corks of a few months ago have been replaced by the whimper of a deflating balloon. Only one side of the Wembley arch looked like potential Champions League winners and it was not the holders.

At Wembley, there was body language and apathy eerily reminiscent of that November night in 2015. Mauricio Pochettino dug his Spurs into Real’s flanks and earned his own ascension to Europe’s managerial summit with arguably Tottenham’s most important win since their League Cup final triumph over Chelsea in 2007-08. That same season bore witness to what until Wednesday remained Madrid’s heaviest European defeat in the last 10 years, a 2-0 loss to Juventus.

Pochettino’s side was faster, more committed, more skilful and more cohesive than a Real Madrid team that at the end of the 2016-17 Champions League magnificently put Bayern, Atletico and Juventus to the sword. On Wednesday, most of Zidane’s side looked as though they would gladly fall on one as they slumped to a first group-stage defeat in five years.

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