Real Madrid: What Zinedine Zidane had to say ahead the home match against Villarreal

, SPAIN - JANUARY 10: coach Zinedine Zidane of Real Madrid during the Spanish Copa del Rey match between Real Madrid v Numancia on January 10, 2018 (Photo by Laurens Lindhout/Soccrates/Getty Images)
, SPAIN - JANUARY 10: coach Zinedine Zidane of Real Madrid during the Spanish Copa del Rey match between Real Madrid v Numancia on January 10, 2018 (Photo by Laurens Lindhout/Soccrates/Getty Images) /

Zinedine Zidane and his team will play their first home league match of 2018 hoping to turn things around and get their first league win since December 9th against Sevilla. Here is what the manager had to say.

All quotes come via the Real Madrid official website.

Opening Statement

"“Our concentration will be at 100% because we’re up against very good opposition, who are having a fantastic season. They have not lost many games. We’re going to try all we can to win the game. That’s our goal and it’s what we’re preparing for. They know how to use the ball very well and they cover a lot of ground. They’re a positive team and their results reflect that.”“I’m not worried about the Bernabéu. We want people to come and cheer us on, which is what they’ve always done. We can’t focus all on the negative. We need our fans. Just as when we’re playing well we need to keep our feet on the ground, when we’re going through a tough spell we need them to help us out.”"

On the “crisis meeting” with the players

“It’s always about looking for positives. I’ve seen a change in the team since our chat. Now we have to reflect that on the pitch. We’re not struggling to find our play, we’re just lacking the continuity we need to get our confidence back, and we can only find that by winning games. Winning is the most important thing and we’ve found it hard of late, but we’ll keep going. We’re still alive in every competition and having watched the games back, I don’t agree with a lot of the criticism, but I have to accept it. There are still positive elements in this team.”

His take on Cristiano Ronaldo’s play

“He’s physically fine, which is the most important thing. A month back he was on a bad run, not getting goals, and then he scored. He’ll get back to being himself in no time.”

Thoughts on areas that need improvement

“We’re in a different situation to last year and we don’t have the luxury of a mini pre-season like we did in the last campaign because we’re playing every three days. That’s not to say we’re not going to do anything. Whenever we get the chance to adjust little things, we do so, especially with players not playing the odd game.”

His take on drawing Leganes in the Copa Del Rey

“It’s a tough tie. We’re in the quarter-finals, but the positive thing is that we don’t have to leave Madrid. Before we look ahead to the semis, we must focus on the quarter-finals. We’re Real Madrid and we know how difficult each game can be. All the opposition is tough.”

“The difficult thing is to avoid reading and listening to what’s being said. That’s not at all easy in this day and age but you have to try. All that’s being said about Real Madrid at the moment is negative, but I, and many others, don’t share that view. The situation is what it is, but we must look for positives: we’re still alive in every competition. We’re not in as bad a place as people say. We need to find that positive energy among the group and keep moving forward.”

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Karim Benzema’s status

“I don’t know when he’ll be back with the group. He’s back out on the pitch but we’ll monitor his development and I can’t wait to have him back in the team. We’ll take it slow with him because we don’t want to take any risks until he’s back at 200%.”

Thoughts on adding players this month

“If you’ve got a player you want, he’s available and can bring something to the team you’re lacking, then you bring him in, but it’s not the case. I can’t think of anyone who would change that. We’ll look at it in June, not now.”

Looking ahead to the match with PSG

“We’ll have to find our best form and play at the level we know we can if we want to qualify. We’re very much alive in the Champions League, it’s not all doom and gloom, and we want to pick up some consistency by winning games and scoring goals. We want to get that positive energy back this month, and to get there, we have to work harder and train more.”

My thoughts

The reporter that asked the question regarding Real Madrid’s team “crisis meeting” that took place earlier this week did a great job posing the question looking for an answer from the manager. Shockingly, Zidane was pretty transparent with what happened and his thoughts on the matter.

The problem isn’t just the talent in the team. There is definitely a confidence issue amongst these players.

Now, the source of this lacking confidence is befuddling to me as they have no reason at all to doubt themselves. Especially given everything they won over the course of 2017.

Maybe it is the pressure from the media and fans regarding Zidane’s status as the manager or the recent second-half collapses.

Yet again, Zizou remains confident in the current players at his disposal and it doesn’t appear he wants to add anyone at all in this window. I agree with him when he says the talent is already at the club.

However, change is a good thing. Adding depth players who can back up the regular starters could invigorate them to perform better knowing their starting position could potentially be at risk.

It is wrong of the fans to continue to nag Zidane for the team’s lackluster performance in the league this season after the number of competitions they have won since he took charge. I still have faith in him to figure out the issues amongst the players and figure out a better game plan/formation that will make the team better.

Next: Should Real Madrid get ready to say goodbye to Cristiano Ronaldo?

There is nothing Zidane can do about the lack of goal scoring from Ronaldo or Benzema. He might need to move them around in the formation or look for alternates to put in their position, but at the end of the day, these guys need to be scoring goals and they simply are not right now.

Times might be tough right now, but don’t lose faith in this team and its players. Yet.

Stay tuned to The Real Champs for more match coverage!