Zidane out to silence critics as injuries pile up at Real Madrid

Los Blancos have drawn their last four matches and are without several key players against Betis on Saturday. But they need to return to winning ways...


The pressure is on once again for Zinedine Zidane. Even through the French coach led Los Blancos to the Champions League and then the UEFA Super Cup either side of the summer break, four consecutive draws have brought fresh criticism. The usual situation at Real Madrid.

Ronaldo: I am the best in the world

Zidane's side are back in action in La Liga on Saturday and during his pre-match press conference on Friday, the 44-year-old fielded a series of questions about his team's fading form.

"I am not a magician," he replied. But Zidane knows what is expected of a coach at Real and even though the criticism is harsh, with Madrid joint-top of the table and the defending European champions, it is the reality.

Not so long ago, the former midfield icon was seeking a record-breaking 17th league win in a row. But he has failed to earn a victory since and with Sergio Ramos, Luka Modric and Casemiro all sidelined, his team face a tough trip to Betis on Saturday.

The game in Seville will represent a test of his coaching skills, with many claiming that Zidane has no plan or playing style despite being in charge for more than nine months at the Santiago Bernabeu.

That is perhaps unfair at this stage, especially because Zidane has lost only one league game in his entire tenure so far. But the truth is that Madrid were slow out of the blocks in the recent draws at home to both Villarreal and Eibar.

"The players are very focused," he said on Friday. "We will look for the solutions and try to win again."

Cristiano Ronaldo has scored only once in his four league appearances for Madrid this term and Zidane will hope the 31-year-old can build on his five goals in two games for Portugal over the international break.

Ramos set for a month on the sidelines

Casemiro eager to return from injury

"A club of Real Madrid's stature can't go so long without winning La Liga," Ronaldo said this week. "It is a competition we must be more consistent in and we are confident we can win it."

Midfielder Toni Kroos said something similar on Thursday at the press conference held to announce he had signed a new contract. "I want La Liga," he told the media. "I hope to win it. We have the potential. We need to be consistent and that's what lets us down sometimes."

That is down to Zidane and the coach knows he will soon be out of a job if Madrid miss out on the major titles. "I am not afraid of being fired," he said in an interview recently. "Anyway, it will happen."

It almost always does at some stage, but this is no time to think about that. Right now, La Liga is alive for Madrid, there is work to be done and Zidane is doing just fine. A win on Saturday, however, would help to silence some of the recent critics.