Real Madrid head coach Santiago Solari said that his team’s efforts to rediscover their best form would not be a ‘path of roses’, after the club’s heaviest-ever European home defeat against CSKA Moscow on Tuesday.
The Champions League holders crashed to a 3-0 loss to the Russians at the Santiago Bernabeu, although they had already qualified as Group G winners before kick-off.
‘I played a team with a lot of young players,’ said Solari, who made seven changes to the starting XI which beat Huesca 1-0 in La Liga at the weekend.
‘The match was used to give many players time who needed it, some because they started and others because they returned from injury, and to give rest to others to try and stay alive in all competitions.’
Real have struggled for much of this campaign after seeing coach Zinedine Zidane and star player Cristiano Ronaldo leave in the close-season, with Julen Lopetegui sacked as boss in October.
But a revival has started under Solari, with four wins in five games closing the gap to La Liga leaders Barcelona to five points.
‘I know it’s not a path of roses, and besides, every rose has its thorns,’ Solari said. ‘We don’t like this result, we wanted to finish with a victory.’
Real will now turn their attentions to Saturday’s league match at home against Rayo Vallecano.
Meanwhile, Manchester United squandered the chance to win their Champions League group on Wednesday after a lacklustre display got what it deserved in a 2-1 defeat to Valencia.
Already through to the last 16, Jose Mourinho made eight changes at the Mestalla, including a return for Paul Pogba, but United were largely outplayed by their Spanish opponents, who sit 15th in La Liga.
After the game, Mourinho seemed to aim a dig at those players to have come in. ‘Nothing surprised me at all,’ he said.