REAL MADRID

Defiant Zidane speech was the motivation Real Madrid needed

During his press conference before the Huesca game, Zidane seemed more determined than ever. Since then, Madrid haven't lost a single game.

On Friday 5 February, Zidane gave his first press conference after spending a week recovering from Covid-19 and the team's 1-2 defeat to Levante. He appeared his usual, calm self when responding to the first question but as the press conference wore on, he became more defiant, defending himself and his players as he faced criticism for the team's poor moment of form. He hit back with some terse replies.

"Every day, I could be out of a job... well all know that, you know it as well as I do, which is why I try to ensure that we are left to do our job. Last season, we won the league, we did, Real Madrid - last year, not 10 years ago. And we have the right to fight to win the league again this season, at least, we're the defending league champions," was his reply when asked about his manner of answering some of the questions. "This squad deserves to continue and give a good account of themselves - for the fans. We have to stand up and be counted, and that's what we're doing. It's too easy to say, 'I've given up'. No, we are going to fight for the fans," he added.

Zidane, 100% behind the players

Zidane's words trickled back into the dressing room and the players could see for themselves how the coach vehemently defended them. Zidane took the flak for them, and also defended his players - the ones who had won the league just a few months earlier. The team, who had only recently been knocked out of the Spanish Super Cup by Athletic, and the Copa del Rey by Alcoyano then suffered a home defeat to Levante in LaLiga, responded.

Since that press conference, Madrid have yet to lose a match. Out of the nine games they have played, they have won seven - among them, both legs of their Champions League tie against Atalanta to book their place in the quarter finals for the first time in three years. The only blips were the draws against Real Sociedad and Atlético Madrid. While both of those results complicated their chances of battling for LaLiga, they remain alive.

During that time, the team has scored 15 goals and conceded just five. And while performances have hardly been brilliant, the team has managed to tighten up in defence. In attack, they have become more effective although they still depend on Benzema, author of six of those 15 goals - despite missing three games through injury.

Rival Result
Huesca (V) 1-2
Getafe (L) 2-0
Valencia (L) 2-0
Valladolid (V) 0-1
Atalanta (V) 0-1
Real Sociedad (L) 1-1
Atl. Madrid (V) 1-1
Elche (L) 2-1
Atalanta (L) 3-1

No margin for error

Zidane will be hoping his side can sustain the run of good results to be in contention for silverware when the season reaches its crucial stage. He has most of his squad fully fit going into the last two months of the campaign. The players believe that they can battle for LaLiga and the Champions League, but one slip in either competition could leave them out. There is no margin for error.