Zinedine Zidane believes James Rodriguez had a good first game back in a Real Madrid jersey during Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Real Valladolid.
James, who at one point seemed set for either a Napoli or Atletico Madrid move this summer, made a surprise start on Saturday. It was, in fact, the first time Zidane named him in the lineup since May 2017.
The Frenchman’s decision to recall James caused quite a surprise at the Santiago Bernabeu. The playmaker appeared to have no Real future upon returning from a two-year loan spell with Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich.
But James played 57 minutes for Zidane’s side against Valladolid, and looked especially good in the first-half. He delivered a calm and composed performance, while proving to be a regular goal threat.
“James played well. He came off because he took a knock,” said Zidane on the club’s website.
“If that happens I prefer not to risk it. He had a good game in the first half just like the rest of the team. He had a chance to score”.
Despite James’ positive display, however, Real couldn’t take away all three points for their first home match of the season.
Karim Benzema scored what looked like the match-winner in the 82nd-minute. It enabled him to become the first Frenchman to score 150 La Liga goals in what was his 314th game.
But Sergio Guardiola spoiled the celebrations for the Bernabeu supporters by equalising for Valladolid six minutes later.
“It left a bitter taste in my mouth,” admitted Zidane.
“We did the hardest part, scoring right at the end of the second half, but just three minutes later they pulled one back.
“It is a tough situation, it’s complicated and hard when you know you deserved more, the three points, especially given all the chances in the first half, all we needed was a goal.”
Real will now take a trip to Villareal for next Sunday’s La Liga match.