Real Madrid’s underwhelming start to the new season took another disappointing turn on Wednesday night as a toothless display in their 3-0 defeat at Paris Saint-Germain saw them fail to register a single shot on target.
Despite starting with a formidable-looking front three of Eden Hazard, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema, former goalkeeper Keylor Navas was left with a spectator’s view of a polished PSG performance.
Another former Madrid favourite, Angel Di Maria, scored twice in the first half before Thomas Meunier rounded off the win in stoppage time. Meunier's goal, the result of some fine combination play with fellow full-back Juan Bernat, meant the defeat became the heaviest Madrid have suffered under Zinedine Zidane in the Champions League.
The game saw Madrid fail to test the opposing goalkeeper for the first time in a Champions League match since the 2003-04 season. It was also the first time they have lost the opening match of a Champions League campaign since 2006 – another defeat in France, on that occasion against Lyon.
By way of mitigation, Madrid did have two goals disallowed during the game.
Bale would have been especially aggrieved as his sumptuous lobbed effort was chalked off for handball following a VAR check, while Benzema had a tidy finish ruled out after Lucas Vazquez was called offside as he blocked the defensive run of Presnel Kimpembe. Madrid looked to have pulled the score back to 2-1 in both instances.
Zidane will have been highly concerned by his side’s performance, the latest in a series of matches where they have struggled to hit top gear.
Madrid sit third in La Liga after four games, unbeaten with two wins and two draws – but they have been some way short of their best.
If there was a positive to be taken against PSG, it was likely the first-half showing of marquee summer signing Hazard.
Making his first start for his new club following a cameo appearance in Saturday’s 3-2 win over Levante, the Belgian showed flashes of the dribbling ability which convinced Zidane to pay €100 million (£88m/$112m) to sign him from Chelsea.
However, the intensity of Hazard’s performance seemed to drop after half-time. Such teething troubles were perhaps to be expected following the thigh injury which disrupted his pre-season and kept him out of Madrid’s opening matches.
Hazard and his team-mates will look to put this setback behind them with a tricky-looking set of fixtures back in La Liga. They host Osasuna in between away fixtures at Sevilla and Atletico Madrid, before returning to European action at home to Club Brugge at the start of October.