Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane stated it’s a struggle to maintain motivation levels at the club with nothing substantial left to play for this season.
With Madrid having been knocked out of the La Liga title race, Copa del Rey, and Champions League all in the space of a week in March, even Zidane’s return as manager in place of the departed Santiago Solari has not sparked an upturn in performances, though the Frenchman has overseen two wins from two games.
Los Blancos struggled to a 3-2 win against Huesca on Sunday, first fighting back from an early deficit to take a 2-1 lead and then needing an 89th-minute winner to avoid being held to a draw at home by the league’s bottom club.
The performance left plenty to desire, admitted Zidane, who had left the club last summer having led Los Merengues to an unprecedented three straight Champions League titles.
“Obviously, we can play much better than we did today. But I’m happy for the victory and the efforts. Huesca deserved more than a defeat,” said Zidane after the game.
“The changes? I tried to build the best possible team to win, and today it was important to make changes after the international break.
“Anyway, it’s impossible to win a title nowadays with just 13 players in your squad. And to make it clear: I’m not trying to keep everybody happy.
“It’s hard to motivate the team when you know you are not going to win any title this season.”
Zidane also explained the decision to select his son, 20-year-old Luca Zidane, in goal ahead of regulars Thibaut Courtois and Keylor Navas.
“I’m happy for Luca’s first victory with Real Madrid,” he added. “Courtois wasn’t fine, and I wanted to give some rest to Keylor. I think everything was all right”.
Real Madrid midfielder Dani Ceballos scored against Huesca to help his team register a 3-2 win – and he’s not stopping there.
The former Real Betis man endured a disappointing debut season under Zinedine Zidane in the Frenchman’s first stint at the helm, hardly featuring for Los Blancos. However, the Spaniard feels that the past will not play any role as he looks to start a new chapter with his boss.
Ceballos is determined to work hard and succeed at Madrid with Zidane at the helm – having impressed in his first start since the manager’s return.
“I haven’t spoken with Zidane about the past, we have a clean slate now and my goal is to succeed here,” he said, according to Marca.
“I’m happy to get my first goal at the Bernabeu. I told my family yesterday it was time that I scored and I’m very happy for the three points which were vital.
“We knew it wasn’t going to be an easy game and the team knew that we would have to stay calm until the end.”
Zinedine Zidane’s son Luca was given his second ever start between the sticks for Real Madrid against Huesca but got off to the worst possible start, picking the ball out of his own net within three minutes after Cucho Hernandez lashed home.
It was left for Karim Benzema to spare Real Madrid’s underwhelming La Liga season going from bad to worse after he played a part in two goals before firing the winner in a 3-2 victory over the league’s basement dwellers.
It was an experimental XI from Zidane, though, with Brahim Diaz returning to the team for the first time since January.
And the rotation almost came back to bite the Los Blancos boss before Benzema’s intervention.
Having made the surprise inclusion of junior Zidane, the Frenchman explained his decision post-match.
Watch the video above to see what he had to say.