Zidane not focused on Madrid future: 'At the end of the season we will see'

By Sports Desk May 16, 2021

Zinedine Zidane insisted the only focus for Real Madrid should be their pivotal LaLiga finale against Villarreal, rather than his future at the club.

Los Blancos remain in the hunt to retain their league title thanks to a 1-0 win away at Athletic Bilbao on Sunday, defender Nacho Fernandez the unlikely hero with the only goal of the game.

It appeared at one stage as if the reigning champions would be in pole position with one more round of fixtures to play, only for Atletico Madrid to produce an impressive comeback at home against Osasuna.

A late Luis Suarez winner at the Wanda Metropolitano has Diego Simeone's side two points ahead of their city rivals in the table.

Reports in the Spanish media on the day of the Athletic game said Zidane had informed the Madrid squad he will be leaving at the end of the campaign, but the Frenchman refused to be drawn on his situation.

"How am I going to tell my players that I am leaving now, when we are putting everything on the line?" Zidane said in his post-match press conference.

"When you say things from the outside, you can say whatever you want. I am not ever going to say that to my players.

"At the end of the season we will see, but now I am in this and am focused on the last match.

"We cannot talk constantly about my future; the most important thing is the last match that we have to play."

Zidane opted to retain the same forward line that started the 4-1 win over Granada on Thursday, meaning Eden Hazard once again had to settle for a place on the bench.

The Belgium international was introduced in the 77th minute in place of Rodrygo, with Zidane insisting it was simply a selection call made by himself, rather than any particular issue.

"Nothing has happened with Hazard, it is just that others are playing at the moment," he said.

"I have to choose the 11 and nothing more. He is contributing like everyone else.”

While Madrid host Villarreal in the Spanish capital next Sunday, Atletico have a trip to relegation-threatened Real Valladolid.

Zidane's side are on a 17-game unbeaten run in LaLiga, their best streak in a single campaign during his two stints in charge.

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    It had been 18 months since Madrid last won a title, the 2019-20 LaLiga crown in the pandemic-hit season that went into extra time, but a 2-0 win over Athletic Bilbao in the Supercopa de Espana final scratched that itch.

    Last term under Zinedine Zidane proved a struggle at times, but there is more zip and panache to the Madrid that Ancelotti has fielded this season. He won four trophies in his first two-year spell at Madrid from 2013 to 2015, and obviously fancies several more this time around.

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    This trip to Saudi Arabia for the Supercopa should provide a timely lift for Madrid, heading into the business end of the season. Seeing off Barcelona in a testing semi-final was a boon, and Madrid controlled the final against Athletic until flagging in the closing stages.

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    "We have the strength to fight for all competitions. This is a team I like to watch play. We don't have just one way of playing, but rather different ones and that is the strength of this team."

    Ancelotti pointed out his personal trophy drought had also ended, after going without such success during spells with Napoli and Everton. It had been four and a half years since he last won any cup, which came at the tail end of his Bayern Munich tenure.

    "I'm not tired of winning, because the last one was a [German] Super Cup with Bayern and I hadn't won for a long time," he said.

    "Winning is the end of the job. Winning means you've done a good job. Sometimes it isn't. I've done a good job at Napoli or Everton and I haven't won anything."

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    Madrid should win more silverware this season. They lead LaLiga, have a Copa del Rey last-16 clash with Elche on Thursday, and remain in the Champions League, albeit with a tough tie against Paris Saint-Germain coming up next in that competition.

    Perez enthused about the prospects for this Ancelotti stint, saying of Madrid's early success: "It means a lot."

    Quoted in Marca, Perez said: "We always want to win everything, they taught us that since we were little. This year it was 60 years since I became a member, and that's how we were educated. I work along the lines that Santiago Bernabeu set for us, and I am happy because we have won the first title."

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    The Inter goalkeeper denied Pessina again soon after the interval, racing off his line to thwart the forward after an incisive move from the hosts. 

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