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Zidane: “Bale didn’t travel to Manchester because he didn’t want to play this match”

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There were several questions about the Welshman in the pre-match press conference. 

Real Madrid CF v Villarreal CF - La Liga Photo by Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Following Raphaël Varane’s pre-match press conference on Thursday evening, Zinedine Zidane then addressed the media in England and there were several questions about Gareth Bale, given that the Welshman wasn’t included in the squad for the Champions League second leg against Manchester City.

On Bale’s absence, Zidane said: “Many things are said. We have a relationship of respect between the coach and the player. The only thing I can say, and it’s a personal thing, is that he preferred not to play. The rest is something between me and him.”

Zidane was then pressed on this, asked to confirm that Bale didn’t travel due to a personal decision rather than a technical decision. “Yes,” he replied. Logically, more questions followed and the coach was then asked if Bale has a future at Real Madrid. “Right now, he is a Real Madrid player and I respect that,” he replied. “I respect Gareth and all the players. What is said in the dressing room stays in the dressing room.”

Another player who Zidane was asked multiple questions about was Eden Hazard, with the coach asked to provide an update on the Belgian’s fitness. On Hazard, the coach said: “He had some injury niggles at the end of the league season, but now he is a lot better. He feels fine and is confident. At the end of the league season, playing every two or three days made it difficult for him to recover, but now he is fine. I hope he can continue without problems.”

Discussing the match itself, Zidane insisted that he and his players have prepared well. He said: “We know the circumstances of the first leg, but we’ve prepared well and we’ll try to have a good game. I can’t say what’ll happen. But I know it’ll be a good game of football between two good teams.”