Chelsea - Real Madrid

Zidane: “I’m proud of my players and now we have to think about the league.”

NEWS | 05/05/2021 | PHOTOGRAPHER: Antonio Villalba (London)

“We're not going to throw in the towel with four games to go, we have to finish the season as strongly as we possibly can”, said the coach.
Zinedine Zidane spoke in the press room at Stamford Bridge after the second leg of the Champions League semi-final. The Madrid manager said: “Chelsea deserved to go through. We did our best, but they deserved to win and go through. The players were prepared for the semi-final and I’m proud of them. They did their best, but we were one game away from the final and Chelsea played really well. They’ve gone through and I’d like to congratulate them”.
“We had a lot of players missing, but now we have four games left in the league and we have to recover and be ready to fight for the league title. It’s really important that we do that. We’ve had a really good Champions League run and we were just one game away from the final. We’re not going to throw in the towel with four games to go now. We have to finish the season as strongly as we can”.
“The first changes were for Vinicius Jr. and Mendy. I changed the wing-backs because we had to exploit that part of the pitch more and that’s what they did. We had to be more clinical in the final third because we didn’t manage a goal and then it becomes difficult, and they created their chances too. In football, you have to take your chances.  I’m proud of what we did in the Champions League and now we have to recover and think about the league”.
Raising the spirits
“That’s football. It was a tough game. We fought and did our best. We had a good start to the game. When they scored, nothing changed, but perhaps it had a psychological impact. Now we’re disappointed. When you lose a semi-final no one is happy. It’s a tough moment, but tomorrow we’ll be back training and we’ll begin preparations for the next match”.
The new position for Vinicius Jr.
“His position today was different to where he usually plays. But with three at the back we had to have two wing-backs. Vinicius Jr. could play there and that was the idea. As you said, we did our best, but Chelsea were superior today and we have to congratulate them and also my players for what we did. It wasn't easy, we did our best, but it wasn’t to be. We played against a team that was better".

We did our best but ultimately they deserved to win the game and go through.

“We had to set the team up like that tonight. Vinicius Jr. can do a job there; he prefers to play on the left but tonight he played as a right wing-back. He had the whole flank and he did a good job. We shouldn’t be looking for excuses there. If you look at the game, the opposition were deserved winners and that’s all there is to it”.
The team’s performance
"That said, I’d rather focus on all my players have achieved to this point. We should congratulate them for what they’ve done despite the difficulties. We were one step away from the final but it wasn’t to be today. The players who were in the starting line-up were fit enough to be there. We ran out of steam a bit towards the end of the game but if the players play, it’s because they’re ready to do so”.
“He needs a run of games. Eden has to play, he has to recover his confidence and all that, but by playing games. It’s a gradual process. It’s his second game in a row and we have to get him back playing”.
“The formation was very clear. We played with three at the back and two wing-backs. We play lots of games like that. It didn’t come off for us because we lost a lot of duels and we were lacking something, that’s true, but we did our best and that’s football. Having said that, these are demanding games and we started off with some chances, if you get a goal things can change. But it went the other way and it was difficult because they had a lot of opportunities to score. They deserved the win and that’s that”.
“We’ve spoken about this a lot this season. It’s been a year with lots of injuries, ups and downs, all sorts of things. That’s the way it is. Even so, we’ve done good things in this Champions League campaign to get this far, we deserved that and we were just one step away from the final, a single game. We have to congratulate the team who were better today. That doesn’t change what we’ve achieved. Now we have to rest up and think about the last four league games”..