Zinedine Zidane: Real Madrid not looking past Alavés

MADRID, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 20: Head coach Zinedine Zidane of Real Madrid attends a press conference at Valdebebas training ground on February 20, 2018 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Angel Martinez/Real Madrid via Getty Images)
MADRID, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 20: Head coach Zinedine Zidane of Real Madrid attends a press conference at Valdebebas training ground on February 20, 2018 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Angel Martinez/Real Madrid via Getty Images) /

With just a two day turnaround, Real Madrid will host struggling Deportivo Alavés Saturday afternoon. After four straight wins in the UCL and La Liga, Zinedine Zidane has his men focused. Here is what the gaffer had to say ahead of the match.

All quotes come via the Real Madrid official website.

Opening Statement

"“I’m proud of the team and everything we’re doing. We’re showing our character and personality. Scoring 26 goals in 6 games is unbelievable and we want to keep up this great run. We’re up against good opposition tomorrow and they’ll come here with a plan.”“We want to put in a good performance and if we manage that we give ourselves a great chance of winning the game. I’m only thinking about tomorrow’s game and trying to pick up the three points, nothing else. We know Alavés have changed their coach and have won four of their last five against good teams. They never give in but we’re well prepared and we’re going to try and give a good performance tomorrow.”"

On the events that took place in Bilbao Thursday

“We’re saddened by the death of the policeman in Bilbao. Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time. I hate violence wherever it occurs. It’s hard to understand when these things happen. I hope it’s the last we see of these kinds of events at a football stadium.”

“That’s what everyone wants. All clubs are committed to combating it. A club wants the best for its fans, so they can come just to watch the football with their families and have a nice day out. That’s what we all want. At least that’s what Real Madrid wants for the fans.”

Thoughts on the ‘BBC’

“I’m always going to back my players and I hope they keep going every day for as long as I’m here.”

On conceding goals

“We’ve always conceded goals and we’ll continue to do so. We’re playing against top sides and it’s important to minimize the mistakes. The opposition can cause us problems, that’s to be expected, it’s part of football. I’ll be a happy man as long as we always get one more than our opponents.”

“The crucial thing is to give it our very best, and that’s what I try to transmit with my passion. I’ve been playing football for 42 years, my entire life, and my father always taught me to give it my all. Things are not always going to go smoothly. Sometimes you need the bad to appreciate the good. We can learn from everything and I do so because I listen carefully. That’s one of my strengths; listening to the people around me because they’re bright and have got a lot to say. I always learn a lot from the people close to me.”

Comments on Gareth Bale and his future

“He’s a key player in this squad and he always will be. You ask me about a different player every day but all I’m interested in, is the team and how we’re working day in day out. There are players who don’t get much game time but they train every day and those players are vital because I believe in the group, not individuals. They’re all fantastic players but I focus only on the team.”

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“The important thing is for him to feel fit and train well. He’s focused and I want to see him back at 100%. I don’t want to lose him to injury again. There are many things behind it but I’m sure he’s going to play a key role. I’ve not had him available due to all the injuries. We play every three days and we have to monitor every player.”

“We’ve had injuries to three or four guys recently and we have to be careful. That’s how I see it, and I’ll be calling on all 25 of my players from here to the end of the season. Football has changed and I need them fit and healthy, at 100%.”

Why was Ceballos subbed in so late against Leganes?

“It wasn’t easy, I’m very sorry about it. I don’t like to take a player off after 30 seconds but it’s just the way it was the other day. I’m thrilled with him because he’s a great guy and he works hard, he’s young and he has to keep learning. He must keep up the good work and concentrate on getting game time.”

Will he watch PSG vs. Marseille?

“I’ll be watching because I love these games and I want to see how Marseille start the game in Paris.”

My thoughts

While the fans and media continue to discuss the second leg fixture between Real Madrid and PSG, the players and staff continue to take it one game at a time. This is, obviously, a great thing and something Zidane should continue to enforce over the next three matches ahead of the big fixture.

Real Madrid struggled at Alaveés in their previous meeting in September, winning 2-1 thanks to a Dani Ceballos brace. Plus, with several players out, this match could very well be more difficult than it appears on paper.

I am still unsure of why so many rumors surround Gareth Bale and his future with the club. He has been playing well since returning from injury and has featured prominently in the squad.

Next: Who should fill in for the injured players at Real Madrid?

Zidane backing him as a crucial player in the squad and saying he is “key” doesn’t really mean much in the world of European football because in an instance, his feeling could quickly change. Ultimately, it is up to the club board and Florentino Perez if Bale stays or leaves.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Dani Ceballos deserves to start this match. If he doesn’t there is a very good chance he could depart Real Madrid for a club that will play him with more regularity.

Stay tuned to The Real Champs for more match coverage.