Zinedine Zidane hopes Real Madrid’s 2-1 win at Barcelona in the Clasico on Saturday serves as a turning point for the rest of the season.
Zidane was commended on social media for his decision to field the relatively-inexperienced Casemiro in an anchorman role after he was dropped by Rafa Benitez for the 4-0 defeat last November, but he chose to hail his side for their collective efforts as they moved to within seven points of Barca atop La Liga.
“I’m happy with everything, not just the result,” he said after the game.
“We struggled a bit at first, but it’s normal because it’s a difficult place to play at. It wasn’t easy, but I’m proud of the players.
“Before the game we knew we had to keep working well. What we had was a good game, but there was still three points at stake
“It’s a derby and it’s best to win, but they’re still three points. We have to think about resting well and thinking about the next game, which is very important.
“We’re seven points behind [Barca] and we have to think about the next game, which is in the Champions League, and on Saturday we’ll think about the next game. Then we’ll see what happens.
“I liked all of my players. Defensively we made an enormous effort.
“When I see a team who are together and fighting for one another, it’s the best thing for a Coach.
“In football, everything happens – bad and good moments. Our start wasn’t so good, but it’s better to start poorly and finish strongly.
“People said [Gareth Bale’s goal] was legal and that the referee didn’t see it.
“[Casemiro] was important defensively. He had an important game against great players who can hurt you.
“We’ll continue to work hard. I’m very happy with all the players and the game they had.
“It was very important to win here psychologically for the rest of the season, just before the Champions League match.
“First we have to go to Atletico [Madrid], who are second, then we’ll see what happens, but winning here is a huge reward.
“We finished the game well. Now we must rest and I want us to play like this until the end of the season. I’m happy.”