Zidane on Bale: "I will always defend my players"

Zidane has given his pre-match presser ahead of the Real Madrid-Valladolid game, where he spoke about Bale, Casemiro, Odriozola's exit and his own improvements as a coach.

Zidane on Bale: "I will always defend my players"

What is the formula for this match against Valladolid?

I think what we need is the spirit of the team. We are in a good moment and we want to continue with what we are doing, nothing more. We know it is difficult, every three days there is a game; that is another story. We always have to show the best version of ourselves. Tomorrow will be the same, a very complicated game against an opponent who has lost only one game at home. We will see what we give in the field.

Zidane on Bale

What’s your view on Bale being injured again?

When the player is available, which is the most important thing, he is fine. It’s a pity that he hurt his ankle the other day and is now unavailable. He is the first one who is not happy. He would like to be with us, train and play. But it's a small thing. I hope to see him with us on Monday.

Are you worried that Bale isn’t gaining continuity?

I always worry if a player is injured. They are the first to suffer, as a coach I don't like it. I prefer to have the problem of making a team from 25 players than have any of them injured. But it is a little thing. He sprained his ankle a little, on Monday I think he will be with us.

Does Bale choose when he plays?

You can think what you want, I’m telling you what I think. When I am with him, what he wants is to always be available, to be with the team. The other day he did a little damage. It's a small thing, talking to the doctors they said it's a three-or-four-day thing.

Does it bother you to have to constantly defend Bale?

The other day he scored, I will always defend my players. They are my players, they train every day, they kill themselves. There is a good dynamic here. The players want to raise the crest of Madrid very high. Each one has their history, but I don't see it so badly. It is true that he has had some injuries and you can’t do anything about that. Hopefully he can have more continuity, playing minutes will put him in a positive dynamic.

Zidane on Casemiro, Odriozola, Vinicius, Hazard

How important is Casemiro?

The goals the other day (he scored twice against Sevilla) were a coincidence, but I'm not surprised that he gets in the area. He is a player who can get forward. He is important, like everyone else. He is showing that but he is the same as everyone else. There are 25 players here and everyone must feel they are important. There are many games, we play every three days and we need everyone.

How does Odriozola’s move to Bayern Munich affect him?

We talked about it, we decided that with that club he has the opportunity to go and play – that's it. He’s there, I hope everything goes well and that he gets minutes. But he is a charming player and he has not played much. But we will count on him and he is still a Madrid player. He will have his chance, but for now he is there. I hope he can play many games.

Do you see Vinicius better than a few weeks ago?

Yes, but like everyone else. He is 19 years old and you have to go easy on him. He has to be ambitious, to do everything he is doing. We are not going to control that. There has to be calm, we have 25 players and when they are not in the group it is because there are many important players. All these players could have more minutes, but we are happy with everything that all the players are doing. Every three days there is a match and I have to choose. It's my job. That will not change until the end.

You have been linked with the French national team. Do you desire that position?

No, because now I am here and very happy. There is a lot of work here, lots of games. My concern is tomorrow's game, and nothing else.

Do you think your image as a coach has improved?

Neither one thing nor the other. What matters most to me is the day to day, I am always interested in improving, growing as a coach – the kind of coach that I am. I am working in what I love. I was a player for many years, I was lucky to be on the field and now it is different, it is a role that I like very much. Everything they say about me: if the team is doing badly, they will say that it is bad and that everything is a catastrophe. I am interested in what I am doing, how I develop with my players. May we be competitive and consistent in our game. It never changes; they will talk about me and we have to keep going. If we don’t, they will criticize me again.

How is Hazard, will he be back for Atléti (on February 1)?

I can’t say yet when his return will be, he has just started to touch the ball. His progress has been good, he no longer has pain. Starting from Monday, he will start working individually with the ball more. Little by little he will improve and I hope that he will return to the group soon.