Real Madrid: Zinedine Zidane wary of Eibar’s talent

PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH 05: Real Madrid Head Coach Zinedine Zidane answers questions during a press conference ahead of the Champion's League match against Paris Saint-Germain at Parc des Princes on March 5, 2018 in Paris, France. (Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH 05: Real Madrid Head Coach Zinedine Zidane answers questions during a press conference ahead of the Champion's League match against Paris Saint-Germain at Parc des Princes on March 5, 2018 in Paris, France. (Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images) /

After a huge win in the Champions League Tuesday over PSG, Real Madrid will turn their focus back to the league as they try to cut the gap behind Atletico Madrid for second place. Here is what Zinedine Zidane had to say about his team and Eibar ahead of the match.

All quotes come via the Real Madrid official website.

Opening Statement

"“We’re in for another tough game at a difficult place to go. It’s a small pitch and it’s not easy to take points there. Éibar are having a fantastic season but we’re preparing to put in a great performance because that’s exactly what’s required at Ipurua.”“They’re a team who have fought hard against relegation and are now demonstrating they’re capable of more. I am a big fan of their coach, he’s got clear ideas. They’re a brave and disciplined team. I’m not at all surprised by their league position and they’re going to make life hard for us.”"

Thoughts on the remainder of the league campaign

“It’s hard to stay at the top level throughout the course of a season. This year, LaLiga has been a case of ups and downs. When you drop points on those above you and the gap opens up, it’s difficult. We’ve had some good games and some poor ones. We know that in our work day to day, this is my message, that we will not give in. LaLiga is not finished, and it’s not over. We’re going to keep fighting until the end because anything can happen in football.”

Feelings on this season as a whole

“I would not have taken this situation, because at the start of the season we always want to win everything. We always want more. But the reality is where we’re at today and we have to keep fighting to achieve more. I would have liked to be top of the league and in the Copa final. But that’s football and we have to accept it.”

What was the celebration in Paris like?

“I’m not here to talk about specific names. The PSG game was won by the group. Perhaps some stand out more than others but I hugged every one of my players because we were absolutely thrilled. But it’s in the past now. We have another important game tomorrow in LaLiga and we have to put in a good performance.”

Thoughts on Karim Benzema and his play

“I’m not going to comment on what’s been said. I was pleased with Karim’s contribution. I’d have liked him to score but he did a lot for the team and we have to be patient. Other players got the goals, we won the game and I’m not concerned by anything else. People who know about football know what a good player he is. There are some who like him, others don’t. Some people love Isco, others don’t. That’s something we cannot change.”

“Karim has to carry on because we should look at what he’s achieved in his nine years here. I really like him as a player and his numbers speak for themselves. He may be the Madrid number 9 and we ask more of him because he’s not been scoring lately. But he’s doing an awful lot for the team and the goals will come. People who like football have to like Benzema.”

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Is the team goal in the Champions League to win it again?

“I’m not thinking about it, I’m focused on tomorrow’s game. The Champions League is back in April and we’ll think about it then. We’ve got real ambitions in that competition and we’ll give it our all, but the most important thing for the team is to follow the right path, and we’ve got another chance to show that tomorrow.”

Thoughts on the criticism he has received

“I’m not here to convince anyone. Everyone will have an opinion about my and they’re entitled to that. I don’t want to change people’s opinions. The key for me is to keep working hard and give it my all every day. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Right now, everyone’s saying I’m the best, a tactician, but it’s ridiculous. If I lose to Éibar they’ll say I’m the worst. The important thing is the passion that I bring to training and on match day.”

“I’m not bothered by it at all, it’s the way it is. When you lose, there are comments, and when you win, there are others. It won’t stop me working with the hunger I possess. We have to live with that criticism and when it’s going against you, you have to live with it.”

Thoughts on Gareth Bale’s play this season

“He’s not lacking anything. He’s part of a squad full of good players. He’s doing a great job as well and we have a lot of games. He didn’t start in either last-sixteen game but I’ve not got any problem with him. He’s a fantastic player and very important for us, just like everyone else. There’s no problem with him being on the bench, I spoke with him and he knows what it’s all about. You’re looking for a problem where there isn’t one. I pick a team every three days and for me, Gareth is crucial, but there are other important players as well.”

My thoughts

This was really a loaded pre-match presser from Zidane which is what I love to see when I write these summaries.

It’s good to see the manager keeping his player’s laser-focused on what is in front of them and not what has already happened. I find it a bit odd that several reporters decided to ask questions about the Champions League match ahead of a La Liga match.

He is right to do this as Eibar is a sneaky good team that always plays the best of the best in Spain very tightly. Despite their stadium being the smallest in the Primera Division and having a substantially smaller transfer budget than the likes of Barca and Real, this club has proven they are staying in the top league and can contest for a European spot.

Next: La Liga match preview: SD Eibar vs. Real Madrid

The 18-man squad included on the trip is a bit puzzling considering it is just 18 players with none of the younger players being included.

Zizou likely feels comfortable playing all his starters in this match considering they have eight days off before hosting Girona and with the international break following.

If you think this match will be a walk in the park for Real Madrid, you are wrong. This could very well be a tie game heading into the final 15 minutes. It should be a very fun one to watch.

Stay tuned to The Real Champs for more pre-match coverage!

Stay tuned to The Real Champs for more pre-match coverage!