The games are coming thick and fast and Real Madrid have another one this midweek, taking on Real Mallorca on Wednesday at the Di Stéfano. On his birthday, Zinedine Zidane held his pre-match press conference and previewed the game, pointing out that the islanders are not to be underestimated, especially as they defeated Real Madrid 1-0 back in October.
On Wednesday’s game, the coach said: “They’re going to come in search of the three points. They’re a team that can cause problems at any moment, as they already proved in the first meeting of the season. We’re just focussing on the game and will approach it with seriousness and focus, trying from the first to the 90th minute to win the game. This is a final. We have eight matches left and every match is important.”
Real Madrid will come up against one of their loanees in this match, with Takefusa Kubo taking on his parent club - and with no ‘fear clauses’ in loan contracts this year. Kubo has come back from the break in great form and Zidane is happy for him, although he’d prefer not to have to face him on Wednesday. On the Japanese player, Zidane said: “I think he’s having a good season. He’s playing a lot and that’s what we all wanted. He is a very interesting player, for the present and the future. I’m happy he’s doing well. Of course, if he were to stay at home tomorrow then that’d be better. But, I wish him the best and urge him to continue like this. His future, though, we won’t decide until the summer. That’s something for later.”
Another rising star on Real Madrid’s books is Vinícius and he’s already making a name for himself with the first team. He was vital against Real Sociedad and Zidane was especially pleased with his defensive contributions. The coach said: “Vinícius is 19 so he still has a lot to learn and he knows that. But, he is a kid who really wants to work and he’s doing it. It’s true that he was phenomenal the other day and not just in attack. It’s good that we have a player who is really good for the present and the future of Real Madrid.”
Several questions also focussed on the controversy of recent days, both the refereeing and VAR debate and the discussion over how much rest time Real Madrid and Barcelona are each getting. “One day it’s the kick-off times and another day it’s referees…,” he lamented. “My focus is only on tomorrow’s game. The schedule is what it is and it won’t change anything. Everyone can have their opinion and I have mine, but I won’t get into it.”
Finally, Zidane provided an injury update by saying Sergio Ramos and Eden Hazard both remain doubtful, but there is good news as Isco has already recovered from the injury suffered last week. “Isco’s injury wasn’t as serious as we thought and he can be with us tomorrow,” Zidane confirmed.