Zinedine Zidane revels in Super Cup win: 'I have a spectacular squad'
Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane hailed his "spectacular" squad after they eased to a 2-0 victory over Barcelona at the Bernabeu on Wednesday evening to seal a 5-1 aggregate victory in the 2017 Spanish Super Cup.
After all the furore around suspended superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, he was barely missed as a Marco Asensio screamer made it 1-0 on just four minutes and Karim Benzema added a second before half-time. Although Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez hit the woodwork after the break, Barca never looked close to a comeback.
The victory was even more impressive given Zidane had shuffled his squad and left Gareth Bale, Isco and Casemiro on the bench after they had all started in Sunday's 3-1 first leg win at the Camp Nou.
Speaking at the postmatch news conference, the Blancos coach said he was extra satisfied when he could shuffle his side and they still played just as well.
"I have a spectacular squad," Zidane said. "When you see Isco who played really well in Barcelona taken out, other players too, it is a bit strong.
"When you change four players, and the dynamic of the team does not change ... we are satisfied.
"We played a great game again today. We started very well, with lots of intensity from the start, playing in their half, winning the ball back there. It was the game we hoped for.
"We are happy with the two games, and we must congratulate players, who were fantastic."
Zidane was asked whether his understated celebration of Asensio's latest wonder goal was a sign of how he expected all members of his squad to perform when called up upon.
"Not just Marco, the players are all doing well, they have faith, and know what they really want," he said. "I enjoyed Marco's goal, as I like football, and with a goal like this, I can only be impressed -- like everyone who enjoys football.
"But at the same time this is football. Tomorrow, or in two games, things can change. Good or bad, we will keep working the same day to day and try and keep going in this way."
Although his currently all-conquering team also outclassed Manchester United to win last week's UEFA Super Cup, Zidane said it would be a mistake to think their success was down to talent alone.
"The players deserve great credit for winning trophies against Manchester United, a great team, and Barcelona," he said. "People might think it is easy, but it's not.
"There is a lot of hard work and motivation behind this. This team is still hungry, and you see that every time we play. To begin like this is very good.
"We are all happy, but we know that now a very long season is starting. It won't be easy, but we are ready to take on the challenge."
Madrid are big favourites to retain the La Liga title, with Barcelona in disarray, and Atletico also having had a difficult summer due to their FIFA imposed transfer ban. However Zidane predicted that the title race would go right down to the wire, as it did last season.
"There will be no euphoria now, as we know this is long," he said. "We can enjoy this moment, but we want to keep going like this.
"This is not a facade I put up. I know this will be long and difficult. We have won nothing yet.
"Last year we won La Liga on the last day, and it will be the same this year. We will have to fight until the end."
Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan