Zinedine Zidane’s Saturday press conference was sandwiched in between Barcelona’s Friday night draw at Sevilla and Real Madrid’s Sunday night trip to take on Real Sociedad and Zinedine Zidane discussed both fixtures. Although Barça’s draw means that Real Madrid now control their own LaLiga destiny, able to secure the title if they win every game, Zidane isn’t thinking that way. On the Catalan club’s dropping of points, he said: “It doesn’t change anything. We have a game of our own. We’ll give our all without thinking about anything else.”
Gerard Piqué’s post-match comments, where he insinuated that Real Madrid have benefited from refereeing decisions since LaLiga’s restart, became a major talking point of the press conference. Yet Zidane didn’t want to get dragged into this controversy. He said: “What interests me is tomorrow’s game. I have my opinion, but I’m not going to say. Each person will think what they think. All I have to say is that we’re thinking about this upcoming game, because the truth is that it’s all that matters to us right now. What we want to do is play on the pitch.” Pressed on that matter further, Zidane was asked point blank if he thinks the referees have favoured Real Madrid so far since the break. “No,” he said, bluntly.
Asked if he would advise his own players to avoid making controversial statements such as Piqué’s, Zidane insisted that he would never do that. “Players are intelligent and I will never tell them what to say,” he explained.
Looking ahead to Sunday night’s Real Sociedad match, Zidane called for his squad to continue with the good form they’ve displayed since returning from the break. He said: “I think that we’ve had two games that were generally good and we have to continue in the same way. It’s the first match we’ll play away from home and it’s against a very good team. We know how difficult it will be. I’ve watched Real Sociedad’s matches since the return and it’s true that they’ve not had good results, but they are capable of causing any team difficulties.”
Even though he is not certain to play due to an injury niggle, Zidane was asked for his thoughts on Martin Ødegaard. On the Norwegian, Zidane told the journalists: “He’s doing really well for that club. He is our player contractually, but we have to remember he plays for another club. We’ll have to wait to see what happens with him for next year. The good thing is that Real Sociedad have been able to enjoy him this year.”
Finally, Zidane was asked if he thinks Karim Benzema has significantly evolved as a player over the past few years: The coach said: “No, I don’t think he’s changed a lot. He has more experience, of course, after being here for so long, but he is the same player in my view. He looks after himself a lot and he has a lot of ambition. He loves football and loves to link up with his teammates with the ball. They say that whoever is Real Madrid’s No.9 has to score, but I don’t necessarily share that view. A No.9 who only scores without getting involved in the game doesn’t interest me so much. Benzema scores and gets involved in the whole game.”