Zinedine Zidane has come to the defence of Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema after the Real Madrid attacking duo were booed by their own fans during the disappointing 2-2 draw against Valencia on Sunday (27 August).
Bale and Benzema led Los Blancos’ attack with Cristiano Ronaldo still suspended for pushing the referee during the recent Spanish Super Cup first-leg victory over Barcelona.
Yet it was Marco Asensio who stepped up in absence of the Ballon d’Or winner, scoring two brilliant goals including a late free-kick to rescue a point for Zidane’s side.
The Real Madrid starlet’s heroic performance was not enough to give his team the victory as Los Blancos failed to join Barcelona, Real Sociedad and Leganes on six points following their opening two La Liga matches.
Benzema missed a host of chances to win it late on while Bale was replaced by Lucas Vazquez in the 74th minute of the game after failing to make any impact.
Zidane, however, refused to single them out for criticism despite both being whistled by the Real Madrid crowd.
“The fans can do what they want,” he said. “The important thing is that Karim has the chances and he did. Tonight he didn’t score but that doesn’t matter.
“We have to keep smiling because this is football. Sometimes things don’t work out but you have to be patient. We don’t bother with what the supporters think, they come here and cheer us on, just like today”.
Some in Spain have even suggested that Real Madrid should try to part ways with Bale before the transfer window closes amid speculation linking the Welshman with Manchester United.
But Zidane said: “Bale is a key player in the squad. Gareth is Gareth. We keep working hard and we rely on Gareth, just as is the case with the other players. Gareth’s situation is good. He had scoring opportunities but did not convert them. We’re going to keep working on this. I can’t criticise my players, quite the contrary. I’m very happy with their work.
“I can’t be happy with result, but the performance was excellent. We deserved more but that’s the way it goes in football and you can’t always win. We’ve dropped two points but I’m really proud of my players.
“The tough part is to create the chances and today we had seven or eight clear-cut openings. We could have won the game, but that’s not how things panned out. We’ll continue to work hard and focus on the next game. It’s now time to rest up, although some of the players are heading off with their national teams”.
Meanwhile, Real Madrid were hit by a further blow as Isco had to be replaced at half-time by Mateo Kovacic after feeling dizzy.
“He felt bad and dizzy at half-time so it was best for him to be replaced,” Zidane confirmed, with the Spaniard now expecting to be assessed by the Real Madrid doctors before joining the Spanish national team.