Cristiano Ronaldo 'issue is over' - Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane
Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane says there has been no internal problems following Cristiano Ronaldo's comments regarding his teammates, while admitting he does not know whether he himself will remain at the club past the summer.
On Saturday, Ronaldo said Real would be in first place if his teammates were on his level, though he later clarified he only meant to refer to his injured teammates' fitness.
Sergio Ramos defended the Portugal international, who was speaking after the 1-0 loss to rivals Atletico Madrid.
Zidane told his prematch news conference ahead of Wednesday's La Liga trip to Levante that the squad had discussed what had happened and were now happy to move on.
"Cristiano talked with everyone, with me, with the players," Zidane said. "Now it is something that is past. Cristiano, we know the importance he has. We are all with him. That issue is over.
"What is important is what is in front -- and we will go forward all together. We have all spoken, as a group and individually. It was a game we lost. We did not expect it, but it is past now. We must look forward, I know it is difficult, but we cannot just think about what's gone now."
Zidane did however appear to knock back Ronaldo's assertion that injuries were to blame for Madrid having now slipped 12 points behind Barcelona in the title race.
"I don't believe there are that many injuries," he said. "During a season you always have injured players. I want to look at things positively. Soon we will have all our players back available. That is the most important for me."
Asked if he could confirm that, no matter what happened over the rest of the season, he would remain in the job, Zidane said he preferred not to look too far ahead.
"What a question, eh?" he responded. "The important thing is the day to day. I am very happy here, enjoying my work, improving every day. When I arrived here, two months ago, everything was great. Now it is all black. I understand that is your concern, but it is not mine. I don't know what will happen in three months, nobody knows. We must just focus on tomorrow -- me and the players. I cannot say anything about the rest."
Zidane accepted that the season had, so far, not gone to plan, and repeated an assertion he made after Saturday's match that there could be changes around the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu in the summer.
"The only thing I can say is that we are focused now on what we have in front," he said. "It's true that things have happened, and things always happen, above all in this club. But the important thing is for us to be united, together, and think about tomorrow's game. Then Saturday [Celta Vigo at home], then the Champions League, then at the end of the season for sure there might be changes. We have an obligation, to ourselves and to all our fans, to give our maximum now."
Saturday's game had seen Atletico's players win their individual duels, which was something that must not be repeated, Zidane said.
"Atletico ran more, that is a fact," he said. "But for me, physically we are good. It is something else. Breaking ball, we must put our foot in. You must win your individual duels. If you lose those, you will lose the game, and we lost many of those duels. It happened in that game, we must make sure it does not happen again."
Big-name players James Rodriguez and Isco were whistled by upset Bernabeu fans when being substituted during Saturday's game, but Zidane said he did not see the issue as being one of individuals failing to perform.
"I've spoken with James, but it's not about that," he said. "James is doing his work, training well, trying his best for the team. I have been a player, and sometimes things do not go for you. What he must do is have more consistency in his game, not just him, but the whole team. It is easy to pick out James, or Isco, but we are all in the same boat, and nobody is jumping out of that boat. What I want from the players is to give 100 percent -- I know anything can happen in a game.
"When I am coach we will always fight, in each game. Now we are just thinking about tomorrow's game -- to win, and just that. I need to find solutions so that James plays better, the same as with Pepe, Isco or Ronaldo."