Real Madrid: What Zinedine Zidane had to say ahead of the Copa Del Rey quarterfinal second leg vs. Leganes

MADRID, SPAIN - JANUARY 23: Head coach Zinedine Zidane of Real Madrid attends a press conference at Valdebebas training ground on January 23, 2018 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Angel Martinez/Real Madrid via Getty Images)
MADRID, SPAIN - JANUARY 23: Head coach Zinedine Zidane of Real Madrid attends a press conference at Valdebebas training ground on January 23, 2018 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Angel Martinez/Real Madrid via Getty Images) /

Real Madrid will host Leganes in the second leg of the Copa Del Rey quarterfinals Wednesday carrying a 1-0 aggregate lead into the home leg. Manager Zinedine Zidane has stressed that the tie is far from over against a solid Leganes side. Here is a full recap of the manager’s press conference ahead of the match.

All quotes come via the Real Madrid official website.

Opening Statement

"“We must go out thinking that the tie is not over. That’s the most important thing. We’re playing against a team that never gives up and works until the end. It’s a cup game and we must do the same as in the first leg: score and keep a clean sheet.”“Leganés were losing 2-0 in their last league match and drew. They deserve credit for that. They are really motivated and it’s the cup. By scoring one goal, anything can happen. We know the importance of the game and the team we’re coming up against. They’ll not drop their guard and will fight and believe until the end.”"

Does he trust the players in the squad?

“We’ll see tomorrow. We must continue like this and we have the opportunity to have another good game. We must continue with the same spirit that we have shown during the last week.”

Will there be a system change employed?

“I said the same thing after the match against Deportivo: the system doesn’t matter, the attitude matters. The important thing is how we can cause the opponent problems. Against Sevilla, we played with a 4-4-2 and scored five goals and had a great game. The other day we played with a 4-3-3. We’ve also played in a diamond and things have gone well. It’ll not change the way we prepare for matches. What interests me is the match tomorrow and putting out the best team to win and move forward game by game.”

Thoughts on Gareth Bale’s play

“What has changed is that he’s no longer in pain and that is key for a player. He is better now. He is showing that he is very important. Hopefully, he continues like this: picking up confidence and continuing to improve”.

“We can’t change what people talk about and say. Cristiano took the phone to see if the wound was large or small and to see if he could continue. It was an uncomfortable and big wound and that’s it. That’s what he said in the changing room and I’m not going to make anything up. They stitched it up and he’s back today. If Cristiano trained with us with a swollen eye, it says that the most important thing for him is that he’s out on the field”.

Update on Sergio Ramos’ recovery

“Sergio will be with us tomorrow and we’ll see what we do.”

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Praise for Isco’s form

“I talk to the player and he’s always going to have an important role here, whether I’m here or not. He’s always shown what type of player he is and I have shown him my confidence because he’s a key player. That’ll not change.

“He didn’t play el Clásico but that wasn’t the idea. The sending off changed the plans. Isco can play in a lot of positions in the 4-3-3, both up front or attacking midfield. His role is always going to be important and I’ll show him, like I do to all the players.”

Thoughts on Karim Benzema

“He’d not played with us for a month. I wanted him to play and be with the group again. The only thing he enjoys with is playing and being out on the pitch. It’s not pleasant to go out on to the pitch and to be whistled. We need our fans to be with us.”

“I know that you have the right to comment on everything because you paid for the ticket, but we really want our supporters to be with us during the 90 minutes and when the game ends, whatever happens, happens. Karim will be with us tomorrow”.

Will Kiko Casilla start the second leg?

“We’ll see if he starts or not. I have three goalkeepers from the first team and two more who train with us from time to time. Tomorrow’s game is important and nothing else.”

My thoughts

While Zidane might say the system doesn’t matter and only the attitude of the players is important, everyone who has watched this team knows that is totally false. This isn’t high school football, these are some of the best players in the world playing against some of the best.

The system is vitally important to the team’s success as we have seen over the last month. While the manager has employed three different formations, it is clear that playing a diamond in the midfield does not work.

On several occasions, Real Madrid was caught horribly off guard on the counter-attack with their midfielders, and wingbacks, pushed up the field trying to get a goal. Zizou can talk about the character and determination of his players all he wants, but it doesn’t mean anything.

It is good to hear Zizou say Gareth Bale is no longer in pain. This shows to the fans who have been hating on the Welsh forward for his lack of production. Clearly, that argument is invalid now as Bale is playing some of the best football since his arrival to the club almost five years back.

Next: Will Thibaut Courtois be Real Madrid’s Kepa alternative?

I expect to see Karim Benzema start this match today in an effort to get him back into the groove. He had a short cameo over the weekend against Deportivo, but the match was already out of hand when he entered. Today will be much different.

Stay tuned to The Real Champs for more great Real Madrid coverage!