Zinedine Zidane spoke to the press ahead of Real Madrid’s visit to Anoeta to take on Real Sociedad on Sunday night and discussed Gareth Bale, the absence of midfield fulcrum Toni Kroos for the match and the possibility of matching Santos’ historical record of scoring in 73 consecutive official fixtures.
“Tomorrow is an important game. We’ve drawn twice and dropped four points and we’re playing away against the joint leader. We know how important the game is but we’re not going to change what we want to do, even if one game is more important than another. For us it’s all about the next game and there are three points in play.”
Kroos joins list of absentees
The Real boss is struggling with injuries and suspensions in the season’s early exchanges and confirmed during the press conference that Kroos will be unavailable in Anoeta, the German joining Cristiano Ronaldo, Marcelo, Karim Benzema and Mateo Kovacic on the sidelines for Sunday’s game. “[Kroos] has had a recurrence of a problem and as always we’re not going to take any risks. During a season there are complicated moments and we’ve got one now with injuries. It’s not anything serious with [Jesús] Vallejo and Kroos so we’re not going to be stupid about it.”
Zidane on Bale: "He’ll need another four months minimum"
Zidane also answered questions about Bale, who has been the subject of jeers from the stands in Real’s last two home games as he feels his way back from a serious injury. “He will play his part. Recently there have been questions surrounding Gareth but he is feeling better every day. He was out for four months and to get back to his best he’ll need another four months minimum. We have to give him time. It’s not just about Bale, because Cristiano and Karim are out… we have other players. It’s the team that will make the difference, not just one player. In any given game one day it’s Cristiano, another day it’s Isco… I believe in what we do as a team, more than what one player does.
Everything happens in its own time. Bale needs time, nothing more. A player thrives on training normally and that’s what he’s doing. Of course, we want him and need him to do more on the pitch, and he does as well, but we’re not concerned because before too long that’s what he’ll do. [Pressure] comes from the outside and we can’t control that. If he scores twice tomorrow what will [the press] be saying? We’ll be delighted; I hope he scores two and we change the way everyone is thinking about Bale.”
Real one game away from matching Santos' record
If Real find the net on Sunday, Zidane’s side will equal the record of scoring in 73 consecutive competitive fixtures set by Pelé’s Santos in the 1960s but Zidane brushed the achievement aside: “We have set the bat very high, we know what we want to do and where we are. Tomorrow’s game is important for us to show that we’re in good shape and in good form. Records are there to be broken but that’s not what motivates us – maybe it does for others.”