NEWS | 08/02/2020 | Javier Vázquez | PHOTOGRAPHER: Helios de la Rubia"We face tough opposition who are doing really well, but we're ready", commented the coach.
"We're not happy with our performance in the Copa del Rey game. We've all analysed it and the good thing is that we have another game three days on from that one. We're fully focused on this match and on getting back to doing what we've been doing because we're not going to throw everything that we've done up until now away on account of just one game".
"In Casemiro's position and how he plays the role, we've only got him, but there are others who are capable of doing well when they play there. There's too much made of whether Casemiro's playing or not. At the end of the day, this is a team game, it's a squad game and we're all important. We know exactly what Casemiro brings to the team, but we have to set up different when he's not available because he could end up having some issues too".
Affected by Copa del Rey result?
"Quite the opposite. I've said in each of my last 21 press conferences that we haven't won anything and nothing changes just because we've lost one game. We have to keep fighting until the end of the season. I, just like all of the players, have a game tomorrow and another one next week. Things keep going, nothing changes. I'm feeling strong and so are the players when it comes to keeping going and we've got another game tomorrow".
Criticism of Marcelo
"It hurts me because they're players that give their all out there. That won't change. I can tell you now that it hurts me and the players too. The important thing is to give our all on the pitch and our fans, who are the most important ones, saw that. We lost, we weren't happy with the performance and that we didn't get through, but the fans saw that we gave it our all. We'd been on a 21-game unbeaten run and we now have to get back to doing what we want to see: giving 100% out there and being strong as a group because things on the outside don't help".
"Marcelo gave his all out there the other night, as they all did. You ask the questions but we know that the problem comes when we lose a game. You talk about it being because of the line-up, that so-and-so wasn't ready... that won't change but the important thing is that my players give 100%, Marcelo did just that and the fans are aware of that. You on the outside are entitled to your opinions and we know how all of this works, particularly with Marcelo and the more experienced players".
"I see Marcelo as being in good shape. Everyone's entitled to their opinion about how he's doing. He's an important player, he's always shown that and will continue to do so until the end. I'll use him, just as I will all of the players. You explained the Isco and Modric and other cases well, but it's really hard to perform for 60 games, always play to the same level and always do well, always be the best player on the pitch and you go through spells during a season. We have to accept that and keep going because this is a long road and we're going to need all of them".
Explaining the situation to Bale
"We always talk about things. I'm not going to tell you what my players say, I'm not here to do that. It's true that he hasn't featured in the last few squad lists, but, as always, I have a decision to make and that's all there is to it. We've got another game tomorrow and I'll be counting on Bale until the end of the season because he's a player that we know can offer us good things. He has to be in good shape and what I want to see is that he's in good shape to play".
Happy with Bale
"We're happy with all the players I have. I know where you're going with your question, but when I've got 25 players I need to name a squad list for every game and that's that. There's no problem and he'll continue to work as he is and we're counting on him. The most important thing is that Bale wants to be here, wants to train and wants to fight. There are times when he isn't involved, like in the last few squad lists, but that doesn't mean anything. What's talked about on the inside stays on the inside, and what goes on outside remains outside. He's our player and I'm going to use him between now and the end of the season. There's no issue. He's under contract and is staying put, as his agent said, he wants to be here".
Bale to feature in squad list?
"Do you want me to tell you who's going to play and how they're going to play too. It'd be no surprise if I was to say that he could be included in the squad list because he's ready to play, but you'll find out this afternoon. We started like this and I'm not going to change. Bale is fine".
Bale given a wake-up call?
"No, because, at the end of the day, I'm the one with the problem. It's not a problem to do with the players. I've got a tough job because I've got to pick from amongst 25 players. We have a lot of strength in depth and that won't change. There's no solution because there is no problem. I'm counting on him and the fact that he hasn't been in the squad for the last few games doesn't mean anything. There's no issue, it may seem as if there is, but far from it. I know that Gareth has a lot to offer us between now and the end of the season".
Is Bale able to train five times a week?
"Yes, he's more than capable and, in fact, if we were to count the number of times he's trained since his last game, he's trained five times".