Real Madrid’s French coach Zinedine Zidane / AFP PHOTO / PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU
Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane insisted there is still plenty for the European champions to be positive about on Saturday despite a run of just one win in five games.
Madrid were dumped out of the Copa del Rey by Celta Vigo on Wednesday and have seen their lead at the top of La Liga cut to just a point from Sevilla after being defeated by their closest challengers for the first time in 40 matches two weeks ago.
However, despite facing the first sustained period of criticism of his year-long spell in charge at the Bernabeu, Zidane, who played for Madrid between 2001 and 2006, believes criticism comes with the territory at one of the biggest clubs in the world.
“The overall assessment is still very positive for us. We are in the fight in La Liga and the Champions League,” said Zidane ahead of Real Sociedad’s visit to the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday.
“We are happy with what we have done up until now. The second half of the season is now starting and we have to have the same consistency we have had up till now.”
Zidane’s decision to stick by much-criticised right-back Danilo in the midst of an injury crisis proved misguided as the Brazilian scored a second own goal in three games in midweek.
Meanwhile, his preference of his compatriot Karim Benzema over Spanish international Alvaro Morata up front has been a particular bugbear for the local press.
“I am happy when I see the team playing well and when there is criticism, you have to accept it whether you agree with it or not,” added Zidane.
“We need to keep working hard and believing what we are doing. We can’t change anything else.”
Raphael Varane is the only injury absentee from midweek to return to the Real squad as Gareth Bale, Luka Modric, James Rodriguez, Dani Carvajal, Marcelo and Pepe once again all miss out.