Zinedine Zidane spoke to reporters ahead of his side’s game against Granada at the Bernabéu on Saturday.
How do you prepare for the first game back after the winter break?
In the same way we did for Sevilla. We know it’s a different game and we are playing a side who will make it difficult for us. The only thing we can do is be ready to play a good game because playing every three days doesn’t give you time to recover or to work.
Piqué and referees
I don’t want to get involved in that debate. We’re thinking about the game tomorrow and that’s it. Referees have a tough job and all I’m concerned about is what we’re going to do tomorrow.
Ronaldo and rest
Cristiano is a very intelligent player. My idea is that I want Cristiano to be in good condition throughout the season. Having 20 games in 70 days, sometimes he will have to rest. There is no problem. He always wants to play, but talking is how you achieve things. That’s the way I see it and he sees it that way as well.
He is a leader on and off the field. He is here before and after the game, he is completely involved even when he doesn't play. He has a tremendous energy and he transmits that to the rest. He is a real leader and he is very important for the group.
One year on the bench... do you enjoy it more than you suffer?
I suffer inside, but maybe you don’t see it because I am still only 44, that’s not very old and I’ve only just started. But it will get more complicated. I’ve been a year with the first team now… I think I can still hang on for a bit [laughs].
What was the key to getting the best out of James?
The key is his hard work. The other day he scored two goals but I was happy because everybody worked well. We have to keep up the hard work, which everybody is doing very well.
What have you given to the players over the last year and what have they given you?
They have given me their professionalism in their work. Every day they are here working hard and it’s difficult to do what they do. We have achieved a lot but there are many games to go and we have to keep going and thinking that if we do our jobs well we can reach our objectives. I think I have given them my passion and my knowledge of football, because I’m 44 and I have always thought about football, which I love.
Is Cristiano capable of scoring more goals than he is doing and will he always play as a centre forward from here?
He is playing more as a number nine but he can also play in the position he always has in his career. We’ll change it around depending on the games. It will be difficult for him to score more than he has been but I hope he does.
What does it mean to you to reach the record of 39 games unbeaten?
That’s not the most important thing for me. I have the best players and I recognize that it is easier to win with talented players. The mixture of talent and hard work makes everything more interesting. If the record comes it is the consequence of of the hard work we do every day.