Real Madrid have many absences right now, with Sergio Ramos, Dani Carvajal, Álvaro Odriozola, Fede Valverde and Karim Benzema all set to miss this Saturday’s LaLiga Santander match against Alavés. Previewing that game, Zinedine Zidane lamented the busy schedule and the fact that so many players around Europe are suffering injuries as the minutes rack up.
He said: “We have 24 players who can all play. With all the games we have, we’ll need them. There’s talk about rotation and people ask what I’m doing when I do it. But, we’re just at the start of this season. People want a show, but a lot has changed [with the schedule]. There are injury risks and I want to protect me players. I suffer when one of my players is injured. It’s frustrating when they can’t be there, but with all the matches that there are we need to be careful.”
He was asked about the Karim Benzema injury, which has turned out to be worse than it first seemed. Zidane said: “I’m not a doctor, so I don’t know exactly. It turned out it was a longer thing, but the important thing is that he recovers well. The players need to be well to be able to play.”
Getting into some tactics, Zidane was asked about the double pivot used against Inter and for his thoughts on how well this formation worked. On that, he replied: “We set up well. The players adapted well to the match and we were phenomenal in the 25 minutes when it was 11 vs 11. Then there was 11 vs 10, which can sometimes even be more difficult, but we had good concentration and defended well. Not only against Inter were we solid, though, as there have been other games where we’ve been good. It’ll need to be the same tomorrow, it’s another final.”
Specifically, Zidane was asked about Martin Ødegaard and praised the Norwegian, but preferred to focus on how the team as a whole did well in the midweek game. On Ødegaard, he said: “He’s showing what he can do as a player. It’s about the players and what we do as a team. We’re tough to beat if we do things together.”
Finally, he was asked if he thinks Diego Maradona is the best player of all time, but didn’t want to get into that debate: He replied: “We’re going to respect his memory and his family and all those who loved him.”