Zinedine Zidane positive over Marcelo, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric fitness
Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said he was remaining positive about the fitness of Toni Kroos, Marcelo and Luka Modric ahead of the second leg of the Champions League round-of-16 tie at Paris Saint-Germain.
Zidane was able to count on all of his big names for the 3-1 first-leg victory, but Kroos picked up a knee problem during that game, Marcelo tweaked a hamstring in the 5-3 La Liga win at Real Betis on Sunday and Modric has now also been ruled out of Wednesday's trip to Leganes with another hamstring issue.
The run of injuries has somewhat dampened the excitement around the club generated by the excellent result against PSG last week, but Zidane said he expected the club's medical staff would get the players back on the pitch before too long.
"Modric has felt a hamstring issue," Zidane said at a news conference on Tuesday. "He has not trained today. It is not so big [a problem], and as always, I have faith in the staff here, the physios and doctors. I am always positive. I do not like to see today that we have three or four players out injured, but that is what we have now. I hope they are not out too long, but we will see. I hope it is short."
With Madrid having five league games in the 20 days between the European games against PSG, Zidane accepted his team were putting in a huge effort, but said the momentum generated by winning every three days was a positive for his side.
"It could be there are some pains and issues as the effort has been enormous," he said. "But we must repeat that [effort], keep this intensity going through each 90 minutes. Playing every three days is something positive for us -- we benefited from it in the past. If you keep winning every three days you are more optimistic. That is what need now."
Zidane did however hint that Cristiano Ronaldo could be rested for Wednesday's short trip to Leganes, a fixture that was rearranged due to Madrid's successful trip to the Club World Cup in December and gives the team a chance to move above Valencia to third in the table.
"Cristiano is playing, for 10 years without stopping, 60, 70 games a season," Zidane said. "A moment comes when it is necessary to rest, for him and for the team. Of course, we talk about it."
The Frenchman also moved to clarify comments made last week about the accumulated 'fatigue' that comes with being Madrid coach, saying that for the moment he remained fully committed to and motivated by his job.
"It is true that sometimes, in my answers, there are some doubts," Zidane said. "But until I get tired of this job, I will continue. It takes a lot out of you, for sure, but I am still young at 45. I am not old enough to say I am tired of coaching. I still have plenty of time.
"Sometimes what I say is taken out of context. I am very happy here, have not been coaching a long time. My passion, my motivation, remains intact. What I like most is the daily work, and I want to stay here a long time, fighting always."
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