Real Madrid’s Zidane unworried over James, Cristiano Ronaldo woes


Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane admitted that while the news of more injuries had him “annoyed,” he is confident the squad will play well under pressure for Wednesday’s Copa del Rey quarterfinal second leg at Celta Vigo.

Cristiano Ronaldo is likely to feature despite a painful foot problem, but James Rodriguez was ruled out with another calf muscle issue and Zidane said that the mood was low after Marcelo and Luka Modric limped out of Saturday’s underwhelming 2-1 La Liga win over Malaga.

Zidane’s side travel to Vigo with an injury list which also includes first teamers Gareth Bale, Luka Modric, Marcelo, Dani Carvajal and Pepe, and will face an in-form Celta side which were good value for their shock 2-1 first leg win at the Bernabeu last week.

At his prematch news conference, Zidane said that the team were now aiming to put injuries behind them and qualify for the last four.

“It’s true I was down on Saturday when I saw players injured, and unhappy,” Zidane said. “I am annoyed to be missing some players, yes. But we cannot do anything about it, during a season this happens.

“That affects me, but just for one day. Those players who have less chance to play, they have been doing well. It will be difficult, at 1-2 behind, but we like these type of games, to have a result to overcome. It is a good situation sometimes, knowing that it’s a knockout game with everything on the line.”

Zidane confirmed that Ronaldo had suffered a painful bang to his foot in Saturday’s game, and sat out training on Monday, but there was no thought of holding the Portugal captain back for next weekend’s La Liga fixture at home to in-form Real Sociedad.

“If Cristiano is fit he will be with us,” he said. “He got a bang, has been feeling it until now, although it is not an injury. We are just thinking about tomorrow’s game, we will not throw any competition, that is for sure.”

Zidane confirmed reports from Colombia’s Radio Caracol that James, who has already missed two weeks with what was first said to be a minor calf muscle problem, now faces a further three weeks out having suffered a similar injury to his other calf.

“James has a problem with his other leg, it is a strain, not a [serious] injury, which is the good part,” Zidane said. “When you have something on one side it can affect the other, which has happened to James. We hoped to have him back on Monday, but it has not been possible. He is also upset as he wanted to be back.”

Madrid’s situation is also complicated by youth team full-back Alvaro Tejero facing a ban having spat at an opponent when playing for Castilla last weekend. Zidane said that little-used Fabio Coentrao could make a rare appearance, in a season in which he has found it difficult to get match-fit following a long layoff last term.

“Tomorrow [Coentrao] will be with us,” he said. “After his long injury, the demands of the training can cause him problems. That is normal after five or six months out. He wants to play, but sometimes his body means he has to stop a bit. Which has happened lately.”

Zidane dismissed a question asking whether he was worried that the demanding preparation methods of fitness coach Antonio Pintus were to blame for the current spate of injuries at the Bernabeu.

“If we need to work we work, if we should rest we rest,” he said. “It’s true we have many injuries lately. I am responsible for all this, all of the staff do their best for the players. We must not be worried and continue with the players we have. Physically we are very good and we will keep going like this.”