Real Madrid US tour woes never worried Zidane
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15 August 2017 15:30
Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane is unsurprised by his team’s impressive return to competitive action despite a lacklustre pre-season tour of the United States.
Madrid beat bitter rivals Barcelona 3-1 in the first leg of the Supercopa de Espana at Camp Nou on Sunday and host the return leg on Wednesday.
That victory followed a 2-1 success against Manchester United in the UEFA Super Cup – results that stand in stark contrast to Madrid’s efforts in America, where they failed to win a match in the International Champions Cup.
“When you start the official games you do expect it,” he said of the upturn at a pre-match news conference.
“When we were on the tour we said we were preparing to compete on August 8 [the date of the UEFA Super Cup] and when we did we played well.
“We competed well with great personality and that comes from the work we did on the tour. The results in the friendlies weren’t good, but the content of the work that we did was.
“It’s a long season with a lot of work to be done and we’re only interested in the day-to-day things.”
Zidane insisted it would be foolish to write Barcelona off as Madrid head into the midweek Clasico without Cristiano Ronaldo, who was hit with a five-match ban for pushing referee Ricardo de Burgos Bengoetxea.
We’re ready for tomorrow’s Spanish Super Cup second leg at the Bernabéu!
— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadriden) August 15, 2017
“Of course, anything can happen. Nothing is ever definite. We have a second leg and have to play very well,” he said.
“Barcelona are a great side who can score against you and put you into difficulties at any time
“In the first game they’ve had chances. We have to play a good game. We played a great game in the first game. We’re going to have to do the same to win.
“We’re not going to relax. We expect a difficult game like the first one, more difficult even.”
Ronaldo’s lengthy absence – pending an appeal the Royal Spanish Football Federation will hear on Wednesday – has brought renewed focus on Madrid’s possible activity during the remaining weeks of the transfer window.
Dani Ceballos and Theo Hernandez arrived during the close season from Real Betis and Atletico Madrid respectively and Madrid have been linked to blockbusting move for Monaco sensation Kylian Mbappe.
“I’m very happy with the squad I have. I think they’re all going to stay,” Zidane added, keen to keep his cards close to his chest.
“I’m going to say the same again – until the 31st, anything can happen. I don’t know, I don’t control this.
“All I can tell you is I’m happy with the players I’ve got.”