Cristiano Ronaldo told me he wasn’t fit at 14:00. He said he could help, but that he wasn’t in optimum form, that he didn’t evolve as expected since yesterday. He wasn’t ready to play and he didn’t train yesterday.
I don’t want to detract merit from Levante, who always do very well when they are allowed to play their game at their stadium. I congratulate them for being clever. They know how to waste time and how to not give the ball back. They know this because it’s also part of football. Our players don’t feel comfortable in this sort of habitat and Levante know it.
My player knows about these situations and fell for the trap. That’s why I make him partly responsible for the defeat and I don’t have a problem doing so. But the referee is also to blame. It’s too much to forgive a penalty and a red card. It is also our fault, mine and my players’. An important part of the meeting I had with my players today covered similar images to those of Khedira’s red card. I didn’t think one of my players could fall for such a trap. You prepare for games as best as you can and this is the response you get. It’s normal on one hand because we don’t train or recreate situations like this. Players have to be sufficiently intelligent to know how to react and to avoid these situations. You also have to feel it in your gut if the ref will allow it.
The ref played a key role. He punished us with fouls we didn’t make. We nevertheless know football’s like that. We have to continue working till the end. Referees have to do their job and they didn’t tonight. Before Khedira’s red card there had been a foul on Di María that the linesman failed to award. The referee has to be fair to both sides. We try to play good football, but sometimes we’re not allowed to.
The red card conditioned the match. Levante’s game improved and they made us suffer. We have to be more compacted to avoid suffering so much. We had many chances to score and we played well until the red card. They were lucky later on and scored.
“It’s a shame to lose the match and drop three points. It’s logical for inferiority to manifest itself when you’re one man down; it’s harder to reach the goal and score. We knew it wouldn’t be easy. You can win or lose the league here. We wanted to take three points and we failed to take them. The only thing we can do is disconnect and look ahead. Opponents make things difficult for us; today proved this.”