Zinedine Zidane confirmed in the post match press-conference that he took Dani Carvajal off at half-time because he had an ankle problem. He also confirmed that he replaced Hazard as he had picked up a knock.
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Zenith Bank BetaLife

Real Madrid’s return to the top of La Liga put down to good coaching and hard work, not refereeing and VAR favours.

The Blancos entered lockdown sat behind arch-rivals Barcelona in the table and with a 2-1 deficit to overturn in a Champions League last-16 clash with Manchester City in order to keep their European dreams alive.

A spark has been found since returning to action, with seven successive victories secured and five clean sheets collected.

Real are now back at the summit in Spain and closing in on a first title triumph since 2017.

Zidane was the man to deliver their last crown, with the Frenchman now looking to repeat the trick during a second spell in the Santiago Bernabeu hot-seat.

Former player and coach Karanka told Marca of goings on in Madrid: “They have had a spectacular return from lockdown when, three or four months after the match against Manchester City, maybe there had been some doubts.

“Once again Zidane has got the magic touch. Players like Sergio Ramos, [Karim] Benzema or [Thibaut] Courtois are getting back to their best. When you have quality and the squad depth of Real Madrid, it’s normal that these things happen.”

While Real have been in stunning form, there have been plenty of suggestions that big decisions are going in their favour.

Even leading officials at Barcelona have hinted at the Blancos getting assistance from VAR, but Karanka believes there is more than a hint of jealousy in that debate.

He added: “I think it’s been the same story many times. When Real Madrid win, the referees are always talked about.

“I prefer to talk about the seven-game unbeaten run and that they are much more consistent than any other team in the top flight. That’s why they are where they are in the table.”

While chasing down another domestic crown, Real are also readying themselves for the resumption of Champions League action in August.

Karanka believes anything is still possible on that front, with there every chance that a meeting with Manchester City can be turned on its head.

He said: “If you asked me this question a few months ago, after the match at the Bernabeu, maybe I’d have had some doubts, but I think Real Madrid are doing well now.

“Zidane has hit the right note to get the team [playing] phenomenally again and playing in Manchester isn’t the same without a crowd as with it. If there’s a team that can come back, it’s Real Madrid.”

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