Bale, Benzema and Cristiano:
“While they are working well together, nothing will change because they have given so much to this team. I have total faith in them, there is no doubt at all about that. They have suffered a slump in form but not all three of them. The team hasn’t been helping the forwards as much as they should”.
So will you continue with the 4-3-3 formation?
“As I say we won’t be changing our identity because it has produced results for us and it’s the system that we’re all comfortable with. When I make changes to the midfield, it’s to give the team more balance or to inject freshness but the system, whether we’re playing 4-3-3 or 4-4-2, remains the same”.
Team talk after the defeat at San Mamés:
“After what I saw in Bilbao, I wanted to give the players my opinion on the game and explain my thoughts on what difficulties we had during the match. I think that the players understood and were in agreement with me. We have isolated the problem and every game we play will give us the chance to correct it”.
What is the problem?
“I’ve already explained – we are labouring too long with the ball, we’re spending too long on the ball in midfield and we’re not moving it about quick enough. Our movement and distribution has to be quicker and we’re not making the most of the quality of our forwards. After that, the movement of our front three needs to adapt so that we can get the ball forward quicker”.
Bale hasn’t scored in eight games. Isn’t that a message for those on the subs’ bench?:
“I would need to change the whole team – Benzema, Cristiano, the midfield… I think Bale is happy with what he is doing. He understands perfectly and his figures will improve”.
Madrid won’t be going to Camp Nou as favourites…
“We travel to Camp Nou on 22 March but before that we have games against Schalke and Levante and our confidence levels will depnd on those two games. I hope we respond well and go to Barcelona with our confidence as high as possible”.
The substitutions made during the Athletic game:
“When I bring Jesé on it usually means we revert from 4-3-3 to 4-4-2; it’s to give the team extra freshness. I don’t think it’s difficult to understand”.
“Khedira and Modric are in the list; Sergio Ramos will return against Levante”.
Will Modric start?
“Modric will start on the bench. I’ll give him a 30-minute run-out in the second half”.