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Zidane: “We’re not thinking about El Clásico yet, only Shakhtar Donetsk

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Also provided an injury update on Sergio Ramos.

Levante UD v Real Madrid - La Liga Santander Photo by Manuel Queimadelos/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Zinedine Zidane has had his first Champions League press conference of the season, previewing Wednesday night’s match against Shakhtar Donetsk. Even though El Clásico is coming up on Saturday and even though Real Madrid will have had one day less rest than Barcelona, Zidane dismissed the notion that he’ll heavily rotate his team on Wednesday night.

On that, the coach said: “The game we have is tomorrow’s one. We’re only focussing on tomorrow’s match. The other matches will then come, but the only game we’re preparing for right now is tomorrow’s. I know that many Shakhtar Donetsk cannot play in this match, but that doesn’t change anything for us. They’re competitive and will come here with the players they have in their deep squad. We just have to be prepared for this and we want to start this competition well. Many teams are fighting to win the Champions League and we’ll do the same.”

It was put to Zidane that the style of play in Europe has changed in recent years, with a more intense and more physical brand of football winning out in the last couple of editions of the Champions League. Offering his opinion on that, the coach said: “You’re right, football has changed physically. There’s a really high intensity nowadays. You have to train well and be very prepared to have that high intensity and that’s what we’re trying to do. I’m a believer in that, in going for the match and pressing high. We know we can cause opponents difficulties by pressing high. There’s another style of play that is about playing deeper and waiting, but that’s not mine.”

Zidane reflected further on the Cádiz defeat during his press conference and wrote it off as a bad day at the office. He said: “Sometimes there are matches that don’t go how you want and you have to move on to the next game. The good thing is that there are matches every three days and we can work to change the dynamic in tomorrow’s game. There’s always criticism when you lose, but we’re just focussed on what we can do. We’re working hard every day and we’re together. We’ll fight for all that is ahead to make our fans proud.”

Zidane was also asked for an injury update on Sergio Ramos, after the captain had to be substituted off at half time of the Cádiz game. Zidane confirmed that Ramos is a doubt for Wednesday’s game, saying: “He had a problem and he hasn’t trained this morning. We didn’t want to risk anything. We’ll see tomorrow, but today he wasn’t able to train.”