It is very early in the season but Zinedine Zidane believes the LaLiga title race is far from finished and that Los Blancos will be challenging come the end of the year.
Wednesday’s 1-0 defeat at home to Real Betis was the lowest moment of the campaign so far, perhaps even of Zidane’s time as head coach, but there is a sense of determination emanating from the Frenchman.
“There are people who can think the league is finished, but we do not think like that,” he said at his pre-match press conference.
Zizou in the rondo
“f you think the league is over, congratulations, but the season is very long and we’ll be there,” he explained.
An alarming inability to convert chances has been the hallmark of Los Blancos’ challenging domestic campaign to this point.
“There is no explanation as to why we haven’t been able to score goals,” he continued.
“I’m not worried and I’m not thinking too much about why this is happening, our job is to analyse and improve.
“We are going to have chances, I would be more worried if we weren’t making chances.”
Gareth Bale’s form has been a topic of discussion amongst supporters in recent weeks, but he was defended by his coach.
“I don’t know when we will see the best Bale, I hope that it is soon,” he noted.
“He is already improving his condition and we know that he can play at the very highest level, he played well against Betis.”
The decision to withdraw Luka Modric in favour of Lucas Vazquez was a substitution that didn’t go down well with a fervent home support at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.
However, the former Bordeaux midfielder defended his change and made clear that the injury to Marcelo complicated matters in a way few could have envisaged.
“I wanted to bring Lucas on for Luka Modric, but Marcelo was just hurt at the same time, we made two quick changes and we lost our shape, these changes are normal for us,” he intimated.
Sergio Ramos had been critical of the officiating in the wake of Wednesday’s disappointment, yet Zidane kept a cool head and refused to be drawn on the topic of referees in LaLiga.
“I am not going to get involved with that, I’ve never talked about referees and I never will,” he said.
“We do not have any excuses, we have to get our performances right and believe in the work we are doing.”
When pressed on the subject of the defeat to the Andalusian club, Zidane illustrated his belief that Los Blancos were unlucky.
“I have watched the match two or three times now, our performance wasn’t bad, believe me, we had 27 shots,” Zidane noted.
“Aside from the performance against Levante, I am happy, I understand that you people need to talk about something and I respect that, but the content of our performances has been generally good.”