Zidane told me apart from Messi, I'm the best left footer - Asensio

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One title defense has begun shakily for Real Madrid.

FC Barcelona opened a four-point gap at the top of the Liga Santander over Real Madrid as they hammered local rivals Espanyol 5-0, while Real Madrid were held to a 1-1 draw by recently promoted Levante in the third round of matches over the La Liga football season.

While he had always been regarded as one of Spanish football's most talented young stars, the extent of the impact he has gone on to make in such a short space of time could not have been predicted.

"Cristiano is well and focused", Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said on Tuesday. He's an important player in the squad, he's a leader who always wants to win and that rubs off on the others. In addition, he is very happy to play again because it is what he likes, what makes him happy.

"I admire Messi - he's never complained to me in any game we played", he added.

"It's true that when you look at the players that we had, like Morata and Mariano, when you look now and you have only have Mayoral you could think we lack a number nine and that might be the case. I made a decision to play for Spain". "We're all excited to have him back with us".

Mayoral has a chance of starting in the team's Champions League opener because Benzema has already been ruled out due to a muscle injury in his right leg. "We also have Karim and Gareth".

"We tried to get in another player, a year ago we had Morata and Mariano and now only [Borja] Mayoral is in the squad".

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