Back to back Champions League holders Madrid have just one point from their last two Group H outings, at home and away against Tottenham Hotspur, but can still ensure progress to the last 16 with a win in Tuesday’s game at APOEL Nicosia.
Poor performances in La Liga this season have had more serious consequences, with the former Galatico’s side now 10 points behind leaders Barcelona, a lead never before made up in Spanish football history.
Zidane told the pre-game news conference in Cyprus that nothing could shake the faith he had in his players who had come through hard times to triumph before.
“I enjoy what I am doing, and will always be positive,” Zidane said. “There are other jobs people have which are not easy. Whatever happens, I am convinced by the resources we have. This is a moment of the season, like last year, when some can be worried. But not me, never.”
Out-of-form forwards Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema have taken much of the headlines from local pundits following Real’s Saturday 0-0 draw against neighbours Atletico Madrid. The French manager said his compatriot knew he could give more, but he and the team to be precise were playing well and they just needed their luck to change in front of goal.
“[Benzema] is the first who wants to give more,” he said. “He knows he can give more. But we are here, and me first, to help all my players, not just Karim. We are doing better, all of us. In our play we are not bad, we are improving. But we need to score one, or two, and then the run changes. Tomorrow we hope it is a game to change this.”
Another talking point around Santiago Bernabeu since the last La Liga fixtures has been lack of playing time given to promising youngsters like Dani Ceballos, who have not had the chance to provide the same impact as last season’s established back-ups like Alvaro Morata and James Rodriguez.
“I talk to the [younger players], and make sure they know the situation,” Zidane said. “They are very young. But they can look at the path of Marco Asensio. He played less last season, more this year. Ceballos will be the same — he has an extraordinary future. As do [Marcos] Llorente, Achraf [Hakimi], all those who play less. This is a step they must take; it is normal they play less than the senior players. But Dani and the others have a future in this team.”
Zidane, when asked whether he would like to add more options to his team in the January window, he preferred to focus on the test which APOEL would provide.
“We can talk about that when the time comes,” he said. “What I am worried about is tomorrow’s game, and to play with the squad we have. It will not be an easy game tomorrow, they are doing well in this CL and we must be very focused and determined, and just think about tomorrow’s game. We know what is on the line tomorrow.”