“We're not going to risk Bale, I don't want him at 80%”- Zidane
Zidane's pre-match press conference was dominated by Gareth Bale: "Every player has their own process, he's had a setback, nothing more. He just needs time." Zizou also confirmed that Kovacic will start against Athletic.
Gareth Bale was the first question, and the second, and the third, his injury relapse the hot topic of the day in the Real Madrid press quarters. Zidane was also asked about Karim Benzema, the 'Caso Valbuena' and what he thought about Real Madrid not wanting Barcelona to play the Copa del Rey final at the Bernabéu. Zidane approached all the questions calmly and even revealed part of his team for tomorrow:
"Bale? When any player is injured it's something that concerns me, but I'm not worried. He's better every day. I'm not going to say now that he'll be back training with us next week. It's something that he needs a little more time to get over. We have to be patient wiht him. I'm not going to risk it, I want him at 100%".
Again asked about Bale, Zidane expressed his confidence in the Welshman:
"What I want is all my players at 100%. If he feels pain, it's normal that his return is put back a little. Bale is massively important to us, we won't risk playing him. I don't want him at 80 or 90 percent".
The next question about Bale focused on this being his fourth week out
"No more than he needs. This is a normal process. You can't predict how long these things will take. Every player has their own process, he's had a setback, nothing more. We just need to give him a little more time".
Copa del rey final at the Bernabéu
That's an issue for the club. I'm more interested in what we do during the week and the match at the weekend, nothing else. Every country has its own way.
Athletic and Aduriz
"They're a strong team, a good unit. We know who we're playing against; they're a threat, particularly from set-pieces... Aduriz is 35, but you wouldn't think it".
Marcelo's replacement / rotations
Tomorrow you'll see who plays. Kovacic starts, I'll tell you that much because, well, because I feel like it.
The player is always the first to feel the disappointment, but he's smiling. He wants to play, to be out there on the pitch. Bale has a good head on his shoulders, he's taking this well, he's in good spirits.
Varane and Mourinho
He's seen him, he knows exactly what he's like because he brought him here. I spoke to Mou, he had the decision to make and brought him here. He's a Madrid player, I want Varane to stay, he's the future of Real Madrid.
How he's feeling as Real Madrid manager
The most important thing for me is not the amount of time I'm here, but knowing that the fans are behind me, that makes me happy. This will be my fifth game, we have to keep up the dynamic and win every game we can.
Barcelona, winning the Copa del Rey at the Bernabéu
What a question. I don't care. I'm going to watch the game, because I want to watch the final, because I like football, Whoever wins... we'll see, I can't tell you anything else.
He's better, running without a problem, we'll see how he's getting on in the day-to-day. It depends on how he feels, but we're not risking anything. We'll see how he gets on.
Home & away form
The good thing is that we'll start playing every three days and I'm not worried about that. Away it's been more difficult than it has at home, but we'd like to think it isn't always going to be like this. One of these days we'll get a 1-0 win and I'll be just as happy.
Benzema and Valbuena
I'm tired of this 'Caso Valbuena', Benzema even more so. I think it won't be long before we can forget all about it.
The fans are hugely important to the players and what we want is to bring happiness to the people who come to watch us play. What I ask of the fans is that they get behind the team, the way they are doing now.
Copa del Rey final
It's only natural that Real Madrid fans don't want the final here, if you asked Barça fans they'd say the same thing.