Zidane defends Real Madrid form: We’re not as bad as everyone says

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The three-time Champions League winning coach knows the pressures the Bernabeu brings and is concerned only with what lies ahead

Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane has brushed off criticism of his side’s performances so far this season.

Despite sitting undefeated and top of the Primera Division, Madrid have faced criticism this season for a lack of fluency, which has manifested itself in three draws from seven domestic games.

In the Champions League, however, the Bernabeu side have got off to a sticky start. They lost their opening fixture 3-0 against Paris Saint-Germain in France then on Tuesday were held to a 2-2 draw at home by Club Brugge.

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The pattern of the midweek game was alarming, as Madrid slipped to a 2-0 deficit before rallying to snatch a late 2-2 draw, albeit their opponents had been reduced to 10 men by that stage.

It was a team display that has alarm bells ringing once again round the Spanish capital, though Zidane, well versed to working amid such drama, has played down the criticism of his players.

“We know the situation, we’re not as bad as everyone says,” he told the media. “This is Real Madrid, it won’t change because of anything I say.”

A focus has fallen especially on goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who was hammered for his performance against the Belgian side.

“The first half of the game the other day was everyone’s fault,” Zidane said of the goalkeeper, who the club had to deny is suffering from an anxiety-related disorder. “There’s no need to review it again. We have to think about the next game.”

The next game is a top-of-the-table clash against second-placed Granada – a fixture that that Zidane is very much looking forward to.

“It’s first against second, that means everything,” he said. “We’ll play against a team that’s having a good season, like us. We want to play a good game, like always. We’ve not had much time to recover, but we’re ready to play.”

Madrid’s squad will be depleted for the weekend’s match as Marcelo, Ferland Mendy, Nacho and Marco Asensio sit out, while it is increasingly probable that Courtois will be kept out of the firing line as he attempts to overcome a bout of gastroenteritis that saw him withdrawn at half-time against Brugge.

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