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Zinedine Zidane: Real Madrid critics can say whatever they want

Craig Burley believes Real Madrid may face one of their toughest roads yet in their quest for a Champions League three-peat.

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane has accused critics of his team of having short memories, saying he had not forgotten their recent achievements.

In May, Madrid became the first team to retain the Champions League in its current format and won the Liga trophy for the first time in five seasons, but are currently fourth in the table -- eight points behind leaders Barcelona -- with their fewest points at this stage for almost a decade.

Despite progressing in the Champions League and Copa del Rey, some of their performances have been criticised.

And speaking at a news conference ahead of Wednesday's final Group H game at home to Borussia Dortmund, with his team having qualified, Zidane said: "I repeat myself a lot, say the same thing every three days, and even I get tired of it.

"I see my team playing well -- we could score more goals, yes, and the situation is not the best as we are eight points back [in La Liga].

"But I know this will change sooner or later. We must keep doing our work, not throw away what we have done.

"Madridismo, the people who love us, have not forgotten what this team has done, me neither. Others can say whatever they want."

Madrid talisman Cristiano Ronaldo has scored only two La Liga goals this season compared with 10 at the same stage last season, but is the Champions League's top scorer with eight strikes in five games.

And Zidane said: "Cristiano is so big that, when things do not go as people want, or as he has made them used to, it is normal that people talk about him.

"The people who love Cristiano and this club know what he is doing. He is giving his all. Last year, not long ago, he had a phenomenal season. We still have six months [of the season] left -- so watch out for Cristiano."

With Gareth Bale again sidelined with muscle problems, Zidane could not say whether the Wales international would be back for Saturday's home game against Sevilla but added that he would be in the squad for the forthcoming Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi.

"We will see when he trains with us - he has not done that yet," the coach said. "He is doing his work, but not with the team.

"That comes first, then we see how he feels. He will travel to Abu Dhabi with us for sure."

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

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