Zinedine Zidane hit back at Gerard Pique’s criticism of Real Madrid ahead of Sunday’s match against Alaves. “This is a very sincere and big club…”
Pique claimed he could never work for Madrid due to their “values” and that “those in the box seats pull the strings” in Spain, prompting Zidane to dismiss the Barcelona defender’s “talk” without drawing himself into the controversy.
“Alaves? It’s true that they beat Barca and drew at the Calderon,” the Coach said at a Press conference.
“They’re a team that have done very good things, they’re a complicated opponent, but we’re prepared. We’ve had time to [prepare].
“We have nine games in 28 days, it means we are going to need everyone. We’re all prepared for the final stretch.
“Would I coach Barcelona? No, they already have cover for tomorrow…
“Pique? I understand you [reporters’] concern, we’ve had 15 days off, but I’m only thinking about this match.
“We’re a very sincere and big club, nothing more than that. Now I’m only thinking about the Alaves game, as are the players, the people at the club, the fans. We’re interested in this and I won’t get into anything else.
“Does the controversy bother me? I don’t care about it, it’s all just talk. What I’m only interested in is what we can do on the pitch, the image we transmit, the one we have.
“No-one here’s going to talk about it. This is a very big club. No matter how much people talk, it’s not going to change. I’m not going to get into that.
“Anyone can say what they like, the only thing I can say is that this is a big and sincere club. It’s two words and this case is closed.
“Raul returning? I’m delighted, this is his home and he’s a symbolic player for this club.
“I’m glad because he can do something big for this club. I don’t know when it’s going to happen, but it’s his home.
“Doubts from ‘madridismo? I don’t doubt them, but he’s returning to the club and the case is closed.
“What role he’ll take, I can’t say, as he will make an announcement, but he can calmly be a Coach here. He also loves football and has what it takes to become a Coach.
“Modric? He’s played a lot and you have to take that into account, but he’s fine physically and if he’s left the pitch, it’s not for that. It’s for the time of the match or a change of system.
“Ramos out? He’s going to rest and that’s it. It’s my decision, he’s played a lot and all the players are very important. It’s my decision and that’s it.
“Are Barca trying to destabilise us? I don’t know. Fifth yellow card for Ronaldo? I hope he doesn’t see a card, we won’t look at that and we’ll see how we’re going to manage that. I hope he stays with four until the end of the season.
“Plan for April? It’s the same as always, all the players are important and they all know that.
“Surely there are some who will play more than others, but what I value is that everyone works and contributes day by day until the end of the season.
“It’s not going to change my objective, we know that there’s a final stretch, in which everything is played for, and we’re prepared for the two challenges: La Liga and the Champions League.
“Condition of the squad? It’s as expected, we’re all very well physically and all very involved, focused. Against Alaves, it won’t be easy.”
Real Madrid (probable): Casilla; Carvajal, Varane, Pepe, Nacho; Modric, Kroos, Isco; Bale, Benzema, Ronaldo
Injuries/suspensions: Casemiro (S) Keylor, Ramos, Marcelo, James (all rested)
Alaves (probable): Pacheco; Femenia, Feddal, Alexis, Theo; Laguardia, Manu; Ibai, Camarasa, Toquero; Deyverson
Injuries/suspensions: Galilea, Krsticic, Sobrino, Vigaray (all injured)
Referee: Sanchez Martinez
Form guide: Madrid (W W W D W) Alaves (W W D L W)
Previous meeting: Alaves 1-4 Madrid
Kick-off time: 15:15 BST/16:15 CET (LIVE on Football Espana!)