Zidane scrambling for answers after Madrid's early struggles

MADRID (AP) " Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane goes into the long international break with a lot of thinking to do.

While the hiatus leaves fans having to mull over the team's struggles a little longer, Zidane will be able to use the extra time off to find ways to get his squad back on track after four straight draws.

"It's my responsibility to look for solutions because we've got to change things. We can't carry on like this," Zidane said. "I'm not happy, that much is clear."

Madrid was held to a 1-1 draw by Eibar at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium on Sunday, leaving the field jeered by fans. The team had already failed to beat Las Palmas and Villarreal in the Spanish league, as well as Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League. Its last win was at Espanyol on Sept. 18.

"We need to look for ways to improve and we'll do that after the international break by working hard. I believe in the work and the quality of this team. I don't think attitude is the problem but something is wrong," Zidane said. "We've got 10 days without the players and when they come back we'll have to start working at 100 percent, not only physically but tactically as well. We need to work together."

Zidane said it's too early in the season to talk about a crisis, but admitted the team has to turn things around when it resumes playing in two weeks.

"After the start we had to the season, this is tough to take," he said. "I'm not going to lose my head but it's tough. We need to work harder and show more intensity at the beginning of games like we've done very often, but we're struggling to replicate that lately."

Madrid lost the league lead to Atletico Madrid after Sunday's draw. Atletico, which won 2-0 at Valencia, also has 15 points, but leads Madrid on goal difference. Sevilla is third with 14 points, one more than Barcelona, which lost at Celta Vigo 4-3.

Zidane said he may have to "bring more intensity to the training sessions" to get his players playing hard from the start.

Zidane has not been able to count on some players during the winless stretch, including left back Marcelo and defensive midfielder Casemiro, who are injured.

To add to Zidane's problems, playmaker James Rodriguez sustained a muscle injury while warming up for Sunday's game against Eibar, and midfielder Luka Modric will be out for a while after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee.

Madrid's next chance to snap its winless streak is Oct. 15 at Real Betis, a team which has yet to lose at home. Madrid then hosts sixth-place Athletic Bilbao.

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Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/tales-azzoni

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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