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Zidane: Ballon d'Or just reward for hero Ronaldo

By Agence France-Presse in Madrid | China Daily | Updated: 2016-11-21 07:46

"I am left with Isco's performance, he was phenomenal. In the first half he didn't lose a single ball," added Zidane.

"That position is his position and with him behind Cristiano we were very well balanced."

However, Zidane refused to confirm whether Ronaldo would be retained as a center-forward once Karim Benzema and Alvaro Morata are fit again.

"He is comfortable in that position and we know that, but we will see what happens in the coming games."

A third league defeat in four games leaves Atletico's title credentials hanging by a thread.

Diego Simeone's men slip to fifth and are now a massive nine points adrift of Real.

"Above all in the first half they were better than us," admitted Simeone.

"For the first 20 minutes of the second half we created chances, played in their half and controlled the game, but then came the penalty, which took the wind out of our sails.

"It is clear that we need to find better solutions for the players to improve and maintain that 20-minute spell in the second half."

Simeone's surprise selection of Fernando Torres ahead of Kevin Gameiro up front failed to pay off as Torres was easily controlled by Madrid's makeshift central defensive partnership of Raphael Varane and Nacho.

However, Simeone defended his decision to start Torres in a bid to counteract Real's threat from set pieces.

"We were looking for more penetration and aerial play," said Simeone.

"With Torres, Saul (Niguez), (Diego) Godin and (Stefan) Savic also balanced up their height at set pieces, which is something important to consider."

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