Zinedine Zidane is crossing his fingers that Gareth Bale’s injury is not serious after he helped Real Madrid to a second consecutive five-goal haul.
First-half doubles for Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema, following an early opener from Bale, helped Real to a thumping 5-1 win over Sporting Gijon at the Bernabeu on Sunday night in Zidane’s second game in charge.
It followed the previous week’s 5-0 win over Deportivo La Coruna, and while Zidane hailed his side’s attacking intent, he vowed there will still be improvements to be made.
Zidane told a press conference: “When I took over this team I knew what I had. It’s a fantastic start – scoring five goals is not easy.
“I know what we can do and what we are going to do in the future. We are only in the beginning – I have high hopes for this team.
“You can always improve. Physically we have to improve a lot and we are going to work hard and be better.
“We’ve only been together for two weeks. We want to win games, but above all to win them at the end of the season which is when titles are decided.”
Real’s victory was slightly by the departures of both Bale and Benzema due to injury, and Zidane admitted some concern about the Welshman.
He added: “Karim’s is just a knock but Gareth’s injury is a bit more complicated.
“It’s in the soleus (calf), and in the left one too. It’s another problem but we will wait and see what the scans say tomorrow. I hope it is nothing serious.”
Atletico stay top
Antoine Griezmann scored twice as Atletico Madrid remained top of the Primera Division with a 3-0 win at Las Palmas, before Luis Suarez plundered a hat-trick as Barcelona hit 10-man Atletico Bilbao for six in Sunday’s late match.
Atletico took the lead midway through the first half from defender Filipe Luis’ angled strike.
Although Las Palmas, fighting for points at the other end of the table, rallied in the second half and came close to an equaliser through Roque, the visitors produced a swift clinical counter attack to move 2-0 ahead with a cool finish by Griezmann on 68 minutes.
As the home side tired, the in-form French frontman slotted a third with a minute to go to keep Atletico two points in front of Barcelona following their romp at the Nou Camp.
Barca overpowered Athletic Bilbao 6-0, as the visitors played almost the whole match with 10 men after goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz was sent off inside the opening five minutes for fouling Suarez as he charged into the penalty area.
FIFA Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi converted the resulting spot-kick and Barcelona – who made seven changes from the midweek win at Espanyol – never looked back, with Neymar chipping in a second before half-time.
It remained one-way traffic after the break, as Suarez made it 3-0 just two minutes after the restart, with Ivan Rakitic adding a fourth before the Uruguay forward wrapped things up by completing his treble.
There was slight concern for Barcelona, however, with both Messi and defender Jordi Alba substituted early as a precaution against injury ahead of Wednesday visit to Bilbao in the first leg of the Copa del Rey quarter-finals.