Zidane: “Cristiano is a leader, we are happy that he is back”

NEWS | 12/09/2017

“We are happy to be back in the Champions League”, stated the Real Madrid coach.
Zinedine Zidane spoke to the press at Real Madrid City the day before his side go head-to-head with APOEL at the Bernabéu. The Whites coach spoke about the Champions League opening tie, saying: “We are happy to be back in this competition, we are the reigning champions. We are starting afresh and are raring to get started in this competition. We know this will be a difficult year, but we're taking it in our stride. Preparing to win is what has set us up to aim for titles. We are going to come up against some fiercely determined competition along the way”.

“Here at Real Madrid there is always pressure but we are used to it. We are the favourites but there are other highly rated teams too. This is not going to change anytime soon, we know what we have to do to start this Champions league campaign off well. To win the competition we need to go out strong, starting with tomorrow's game. That's the only thing I'm interested in. They are an experienced side and if we let them play, they will really bring the game to us”.

Praise for Cristiano Ronaldo
“He is doing well, focussed. He is happy because he will soon be doing what he loves again: playing football. We are happy for him. He is doing well both physically and mentally. We are excited to get him back on the pitch because he is a real boost for the side. He will play tomorrow but will still be serving his ban on Sunday. I hope that will be the last game he misses this season”.

“I want Cristiano Ronaldo to stay with us, that's it. We must not speak about dependency. I want all of my players to play and be available to me. He doesn't just bring goals. He is a true linchpin within the team, he is a leader. He always wants to win and makes that clear to the others. We are happy when he is here with us”.

We will need to start off well tomorrow against APOEL, they are an experienced side.

“You are here to do your job and I'm here to do mine as best possible. With this squad, and so many games, anything can happen. I'm not going to change my ideas. I'm interested in my players, what happens outside will not affect us”.

Recent results
“A similar thing happened last term, we drew a few games in a row, we're not concerned, quite the opposite. We cannot simply be content with those results, least of all the last one, but that is football. We are not going to change, we will continue the hard work and play better football in order to win. These things can happen over the season”.

Reinforcements up front?
“We cannot do anything until January now. When you look at the players we had, Morata and Mariano, and now we only have Mayoral, it might look like we're missing a number nine, but it wasn't to be in the end. I wanted to see Morata stay, but he wanted to play more and we have to respect that. We don't have to go any further into it, we will find a solution. I have every faith in Mayoral. he is young and eager to play. We are going to stick to our guns and I am convinced that in doing so, we will do very well”.

“He will be with us tomorrow, I am here to make decisions. The players and I know how we're going to play. He is a new option for us”.

Lapses in concentration
“We work on these things in the week so that they don't happen in the game but it is inevitable. Football is like that sometimes, and to improve you need to slip up from time to time, that is part of the game. We're going to try and keep such errors to a minimum and that's it”.
“His home is Real Madrid and he is doing well. He as just arrived and needs time. He is a key player and will not be playing a supporting role, far from out, but he will need time. It is the start of the season and I’m happy with what he's doing within the squad and how he is performing under me, his coach”.

Varane and Asensio
“Varane is doing well, has recovered and is back with us. Marco is more or less there. He still has a little way to go…”.