Barcelona vs Real Madrid: Zidane's pre-Clásico press conference
Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane spoke to the media as Los Blancos look to bounce back from two straight defeats in Saturday's Clásico against Barcelona.
Speaking to reporters on Friday, Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane looked ahead to Saturday's Clásico against arch rivals Barcelona (16:00 CEST) - a game that comes on the back of surprise losses to Cádiz and Shakhtar Donetsk.
Zidane reflected on the defeats, which have sparked speculation over his future at Madrid, discussed the fitness of skipper Sergio Ramos - who missed the Shakhtar game with a knee problem - and offered his thoughts on Barça under new boss Ronald Koeman.
Zidane's pre-Clásico press conference:
“He’s our captain, our leader, but as always we’re not going to take any risks. He has recovered and he’ll be with us. It’s about being at 100% and I think he is.”
Cádiz and Shakhtar Donetsk defeats:
“We’ve watched the games; I always do. We started badly in the sense that when they scored, we struggled to get our chins up. They sat very deep. That’s football: there are ups and downs and you have to accept them. We have to move on from what happened the other day. [The Clásico] is a special game and a chance to show what we’re made of.”
Is this a good time for a Clásico?
“It’s the best way to turn the situation around, a chance for us to bounce back, to say: We’re going to change the way things have been going. We’re out to put in a top display.”
Is this your toughest time as Real Madrid coach?
“I don’t like to feel sorry for myself. It’s a new game and that’s what’s great about football. You can go through tough times but you can always turn things around.”
Is the team short on confidence? How are the players looking?
“With two [full] days between games, it’s about resting and focusing in on the next one. That’s what we’ve done. We now have to go out there and put in a strong performance. Confidence comes from what you do out there on the pitch. If you do well, you’re all the more confident.”
Thoughts on Barcelona under Koeman:
“They’re a side who’ve always been a strong team. Each coach has brought different things to the team, but Barça are always Barça. A competitive side who know how to play good football and can make life difficult for you. I’m not going to go into great detail about their play, but it’s good for us to have a game like this against them, one that’ll be tough right from the get-go.”
What do you need to change as a coach?
“I’ve always been self-critical. That’s how you improve. We know that we’ll turn things around by sticking together and the lads want to put in a good performance. After a defeat, most of the criticism is directed at me as a coach, and that’s only fair. But I don’t dwell on the past: I’m only interested in what’s ahead of us, starting with the match [against Barcelona].”
Are Real Madrid more motivated than ever?
“Yes, we’ll go out there all out to win the game, as ever. Sometimes things don’t turn out the way you’d hoped, but we always go out there all out to win. The good thing about football is that we have another game now - and what a game. We’ll be motivated, focused and determined from start to finish.”
Have you felt the backing of president Florentino Pérez?
“Yes, from everyone. At the end of the day, I’ve won a lot with these players - they’ve allowed me to win a lot. I’ll always be behind my players all the way. They’re the ones who fight hard and run themselves into the ground for me. And I feel their support. Right now what’s important for us is that we move on [from the Cádiz and Shakhtar defeats]. We have games ahead that are our chance to turn things around. That’s what’s so special about football. When the going gets tough, you have to show your character and quality.”
Is your future at stake against Barcelona?
“That’s what people are saying. Nothing changes: last year the same thing happened, and in my first spell as Real Madrid coach too. What I have to do is focus on my job, give 100% as always and pay no attention to anything else.”
Does the criticism annoy you?
“When we perform badly, criticism is to be expected. That’s always been the way. But criticism doesn’t change anything for me. What can change things is the fact that we have two important games ahead of us and there are things we have to improve.”
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