Zidane says Real Madrid will fight until end to overcome 10-point deficit
Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said his team would remain fighting for the title right until the end, even as Saturday's 0-0 draw at Atletico Madrid saw the defending champions slip 10 points behind leaders Barcelona in La Liga.
Neither team created many chances over the 90 minutes in the first ever derbi at the Wanda Metropolitano -- meaning Barca were the day's big winners after their 3-0 victory at Leganes elsewhere in the Spanish capital earlier on Saturday.
No team has ever made up a 10-point gap to win the La Liga title, but with two thirds of the season still to play the Los Blancos coach told the postmatch news conference that he didn't think the race for the trophy was over.
"I do not see it like that," Zidane said. "There are still many games to go, many points to play for. Ten points are a lot, yes, but for sure this will change. Barca will not always pick up points, and we must be there waiting. Football can change quickly, and we will be there fighting until the end, for sure."
Zidane also said he was happy with the performance put in by his team, who had deserved more from the game.
"We played well but just lacked a goal," he said. "I have nothing to reproach my players for. We played a great game, deserved more tonight but it was not to be. We should be patient, we are on the right path. I am sorry for the players, the effort they put in, they deserved more."
It was another frustrating night for Madrid talisman Cristiano Ronaldo, who still has just one goal in La Liga this term, while in general the team lacked spark in attack. Zidane admitted his side could not be happy with the chances they were missing lately, but said he was sure things would change soon.
"This is football," he said. "Sometimes the ball won't go in. I cannot explain it really. But it will come, for sure. Like last year, and like just two months ago. When a team makes a lot of chances, we cannot be happy, and the players first.
"But there is no need to get down. We played a good game and must focus on the positive. This will change. I cannot say anything more than that."
Madrid captain Sergio Ramos was substituted at half-time with a fractured nose, following a challenge from Atletico defender Lucas Hernandez which some Blancos pundits claimed deserved a penalty. Zidane preferred not to criticise the referee's display, while saying he did not know how many games the defender could now miss.
"I did not see anything, and will not comment," he said. "The referee did his job, that's it. It is a fracture, for Sergio. I believe it's broken. I don't know how long he'll be out for."
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