Real Madrid: What Zinedine Zidane had to say ahead of the Copa Del Rey round of 16

MADRID, SPAIN - DECEMBER 22: Zinedine Zidane, Manager of Real Madrid ponders a question during the Real press conference at Valdebebas training ground on December 22, 2017 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
MADRID, SPAIN - DECEMBER 22: Zinedine Zidane, Manager of Real Madrid ponders a question during the Real press conference at Valdebebas training ground on December 22, 2017 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images) /

Zinedine Zidane will have the eyes of every Real Madrid fan on him as his team opens play in 2018 with a trip to Soria to face CD Numancia in the Copa Del Rey round of 16 first leg. Here is what the manager said in his pre-match press conference.

All quotes come via the Real Madrid official website.

Opening Statement

"“We’re looking forward to it [the Copa Del Rey]. That’s the most important thing for us. We’ve got three competitions left to play for and we want to give everything in every match. The cup is back tomorrow and we’re looking forward to the game and hope to make it through.”“Numancia are doing very well in the league and in the Copa del Rey they’ve knocked out Málaga, a team from Primera. We will respect our opponent. We know the importance of the first match being away from home and we’ll try to put in a good performance and respect the opponent.”"

On the squad following the break

“I’m happy with my squad no matter what happens and I’m going to fight with them, and they will with me, until the end. I have faith in my squad. It hurts to lose el Clásico, but Real Madrid never give up. We’re alive in all three competitions and we have the same enthusiasm to fight in every match we play from now until the end of May. At the end of the season, we’ll see if there are things that need to be changed or not.”

An update on Gareth Bale’s status

“He’s fine, he’s training regularly and tomorrow he’ll be with us. The idea is that he get some consistency in the matches.”

On Karim Benzema’s injury

“I found out after el Clásico. He picked up a niggle. I trust my players and that’s it. It’s not nice to see a footballer injured. It was after el Clásico, not before. Those who say it was before are lying. He went on holiday and did what he had to do but he’s still not right.”

“He’s was injured when he went away. He picked it up during el Clásico but we didn’t think too much about it at the time. We thought he was a little bit overloaded, but then something else showed up on the scan.”

On his record while managing the club

“You never know here. I’ll try to finish the season as well as possible. We have the chance to win titles and that motivates me and the squad. I’m not looking beyond the next six months. The more we win the more we want. We don’t get tired of winning. We must try to overcome a few setbacks.”

Thoughts on the January transfer window

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“I talked with the president and we looked at everything. We could speak about reinforcements, but there will be no signings at the minute, although anything could happen before the end of January. Of course, I don’t want any of the squad to leave.”

When asked about goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga

“I don’t like to talk about players who aren’t Real Madrid players. I’m only thinking about my goalkeepers.”

On Vinicius’ future with the club

“I don’t know the plan with him. He’s not my concern at the moment. He’s a player for the future. He’s not with us yet, but we are always watching him and we hope that everything goes well.”

My thoughts

I have said it before and I will say it again: with all the criticism he receives, Zidane really does a great job handling himself in front of the media. This media in the Spanish capital can whip themselves into a frenzy and that can sometimes overwhelm a manager.

Zizou doesn’t ever seem phased.

It is good to hear that Gareth Bale is continuing to train and will be with the squad tomorrow while Karim Benzema continues to rehab from his injury picked up in the loss to FC Barcelona.

I wrote about it Wednesday and it showed in his press conference ahead of the match. Zidane is treating the Copa Del Rey this year equal to that of the Champions League and La Liga. It means a lot to him that it is the only trophy he has yet to win and he is dying to get his hands on it.

I thought it was very appropriate for him to shoot down the question regarding Kepa’s transfer status as it is nothing more than a distraction. The manager doesn’t need to be discussing transfer rumors. Leave that to us who love Real Madrid and write about them on a daily basis.

This will be no easy match for Real Madrid as it seems the lower league teams always play their best matches against the Spanish giants. Numancia will be no different as their fans have been anxiously waiting to host Los Blancos.

Next: Real Madrid miss out as Rafa Mir signs for Wolves

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