Zinedine Zidane feels sorry for former Real Madrid coach Radomir Antic after he claimed Luka Modric did not deserve to win the Ballon d'Or.
Antic told Goal that it made no sense for Modric, who lifted the Champions League with Madrid before inspiring Croatia to a first World Cup final last year, to claim the 2018 prize because "he doesn't give goals or assists".
Zidane, though, insists Modric fully deserved to end Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi's 10-year dominance of football's top individual honour.
"People can say what they want," he told a news conference. "I feel sorry for people who say things like that.
"He deserves the Ballon d'Or, he earned it, with his skill and his attitude. If anybody thinks differently, then I'm sorry."
Despite admitting his side have a clear problem when it comes to scoring goals, Zidane insists he is not angry with his players and saw things to be positive about at Mestalla.
"Next year, we will see what we can do regarding goals," he said. "This year has cost us and there is the data to back it up.
"We have to accept that this year we have had problems scoring, and that's it. But we will change things.
"You have the proof with regards to what these players have achieved in recent years, and the club needs to start winning again. That's why I'm here. There are eight games left, and we are going to finish well because of the fans. But don't forget what the players have done.
"It seems like I am angry, but I'm not, I just speak with conviction.
"We will continue what we are doing. I saw a lot of things after the Valencia game, and to say we were terrible is a lie. We have to continue, and improve things to play well, but I think what we are doing isn't all bad.
"I'm not in the heads of the players, but I see what they want to do, and they are players who have pride and want to finish the season well.
"Defeat always means something, but we did good things [against Valencia] and we have to think about that."