Zinedine Zidane and Thibaut Courtois, especially, have vocally expressed their displeasure at the way the fixture was handled, and the ordeal has become the latest chapter in an ongoing war that began over television rights and intensified due to scheduling, the European Super League and VAR.
“This was not a football match,” Zidane said post-game. “The match should have been suspended, and now we don’t even know when we will be able to return.” Courtois echoed his coach’s sentiments. “It’s unfortunate what La Liga has done to us,” he said. “We’re not puppets.”
Madrid were already outraged before the game. They wanted to travel on Saturday, not Friday, and even though they saw the situation was daunting before they left Madrid, La Liga did nothing to suspend the game, forcing Los Blancos to play on an imperfect pitch and drop two precious points.
It’s not the first bone of contention between the two parties. Florentino Perez recently hinted at a European Super League, causing La Liga chief Javier Tebas to step out with a harsh criticism of the Madrid president. “I think the president of Real Madrid is clueless regarding the issue of the Super League,” he said. “That project is not real.”
Then there’s VAR. Madrid maintain that controversial incidents against them aren’t given the proper treatment due to an anti-Madrid bias. They also see the scheduling of fixtures as unfair, that it gives them less time to recuperate than Barcelona, an example being when they played Getafe and Athletic Club in the space of 64 hours last season post-lockdown – a spell where they accumulated 135 hours less rest than their Catalan rivals.