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Zidane: “The goal was a pre-planned piece of play… but it wasn’t supposed to be Mendy!”

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The coach reflected on the win away at Atalanta.

Atalanta v Real Madrid - UEFA Champions League Round Of 16 Leg One Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

Real Madrid defeated Atalanta 1-0 on Wednesday night, with Ferland Mendy scoring the winner late on with a right-footed shot from outside the box. It came from a corner that Real Madrid played out to the edge of the box and Zinedine Zidane explained in his post-match press conference that they’d worked on this passage of play in training.

He said: “Yes, it was a pre-planned piece of play. But, the player who was supposed to shoot wasn’t Ferland! But well… he scored with his right foot. I think he actually sometimes manages to his it with more power with his right. He’s more accurate with his left, but maybe stronger with his right.”

Overall, Zidane said that he is happier with the result than the performance. He said: “I don’t think we played a great game, but the important thing was the result. We still have the second leg to come. But, we’ve taken a good result against an Atalanta team that play well. We have an away goal and a clean sheet. The tie is still alive, though. We’ll have to play a good game in the second leg.”

Strangely, Real Madrid almost played better before the red card than after the red card. On the decision and on the difficulties Real Madrid found once Atalanta switched into defence mode, he said: “I don’t know if [the red card] was excessive. But, it’s the referee who makes the decision. The red card changed our plan a little, because it became a different kind of match. It was uncomfortable when they went down to 10 because we couldn’t find the spaces.”

Finally, Zidane spoke about Isco’s performance as he started for just the second time since November – with the other start coming against Alcoyano. On the midfielder, Zidane said: “It’s true he hadn’t played a lot recently, especially as a starter. But, we know what he can do. He gives his all on the pitch when he plays.”