Zidane Backs Benzema And Bale As Season Closes

Reuters

 

Zinedine Zidane has dismissed suggestions Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema are unhappy at Real Madrid, insisting the pair remain important to the club despite no longer being guaranteed a place in the first team.

Welshman Bale was troubled by a calf injury in the first half of the season and has struggled to lock down a regular starting berth since his return to fitness.

The former Tottenham player was substituted at half-time in Madrid's 3-1 home defeat to Juventus in the Champions League, though he has still managed 14 goals in all competitions.

Benzema, meanwhile, has found the net just nine times in all competitions. The Frenchman has often played as Cristiano Ronaldo's strike partner, yet his poor scoring form has seen him criticised by both Madrid fans and the Spanish press.

However, Zidane has backed the pair to make an impact for the club in the closing stages of the campaign.

"This is football, we're all in the same team and I need all my players, I don't think they're sad, they're working great on the training field," he told the media. 

"I said after the last game that both of them want to score more but beside that they're working great.

"It always happens that during the season other players reach a really high peak of performance and that's what is happening right now, there are many great players in this club and I have to take that in account."

Both Bale and Benzema will hope to feature on Wednesday when Madrid host Athletic Bilbao at the Santiago Bernabeu.

The Liga champions moved into third spot in the table with a 2-1 victory over Malaga on Sunday, though they are too far back to worry runaway leaders Barcelona.

Still, Zidane has challenged his players to overhaul second-placed Atletico Madrid - who lead their capital city rivals by four points with six games to play - before the end of the campaign.

"The most important thing for us is to take back the second place of the Spanish league," the Frenchman said.

"We took back third place, but we have a chance tomorrow at home to get closer to the second position, which we will try to do with a good game."