Zinedine Zidane insists Karim Benzema is “the world’s best” No 9 and has slammed Gary Lineker for his ‘disgraceful’ criticism of the Real Madrid striker.
Lineker suggested Benzema was ‘overrated’ after he missed a raft of chances during Madrid’s 1-1 draw with Tottenham Hotspur on Tuesday, but Zidane admitted he was ‘bothered’ by the TV presenter’s comments.
“We play every three days, we know we have seven games before another international break,” the Coach said at a Press conference for Sunday’s match against Eibar in La Liga.
“It’s what the players like to do, play. Recovery [from the Spurs game] has complicated things a bit, but we’ve had two days to recover and we’re fine.
“Best Coach in the world? I don’t feel that way, not at all. I feel like I’m at the best club in the world, yes, but the other thing? Not at all. I say it honestly and that’s it.
“Easier away from home? It’s a feeling from other people, but we like to play at the Bernabeu.
“It’s true that if you look at our results, they haven’t been as expected, such as the other day. We didn’t win, but we’re not worried about what’s been said.
“We know this will be a long season, but also that it’s just a moment and we’ll overcome it.
“Injuries? When you look at the results we’ve picked up, we haven’t done badly.
“We want to improve and we will improve, but we’re five points behind the leaders. We’re leaders in our Champions League group and we already have two trophies.
“I don’t know if people have already forgotten about that, plus we’re playing for another in December, and at the end of the season, there’s La Liga and the Champions League. We’re on the right path. There’s no need to worry.
“Lineker’s criticism of Benzema? It bothers me because for people who know football, to say that is a disgrace. For me, he’s the world’s best.
“I don’t know if people think that a No 9 has to score 50 goals. Karim won’t score 60 goals, but he’ll score 25 or 30 and assist 30.
“It bothers me, but you can’t help it and I can assure you that, for me, he’s the best [No 9] by far.
“Everyone can say that a No 9 has to score more goals, but for me it’s not just about that. Karim has everything.
“He has goals, he doesn’t score 50 but 25 or 30, and that’s what he's going to do this season. I care more about how he links up [with his teammates], like the others.
“What I like is good football, and people who think that No 9s are just about goals, that’s fine, but it’s not my philosophy.
“He’s the best. It’s that simple, but I’m always going to defend my players. Maybe for some he isn’t, fair enough, but for me he is.
“If he’s been here for 10 years, it’s been for something constantly positive. He’s the best on the pitch.
“Scoring the most goals isn’t the most important thing, not for me anyway. He has everything I love about a player. He can do better, yes, but we’re on it and so is he.
“Keylor? We won’t force him back. It’s a different injury [to his last one], but that’s football. It’s a small thing, but it’s also inevitable.
“You ask me why there are so many injuries and there’s no explanation for them. It’s all by chance and part of a season.
“We’re sure that we’ll have all our players back in shape soon, although it’s true that we’re a bit annoyed by all the injuries we have.
“Inui? He’s a good player. He’s needed time to adapt to this League, but he’s an important player for Eibar and knows how to play technically. He’s good with the ball, so we have to always be watchful of him.
“Less dangerous from set-pieces? Our rivals have certainly got to know us better, but we’ve only just started. We know we can always do important things from a set-piece.”
“Award for Best Coach? I do everything I possibly can to be a dedicated Coach, I like what I’m doing and when you do everything with passion, it helps.
“I’m like the others. If [FIFA] give it to me then I’ll accept it with pleasure, but I’m not the best Coach in the world. I’m sure of that, too.”