Gareth Bale has praised Zinedine Zidane for allowing Real Madrid’s stars the freedom they need to perform at their peak.
Zidane has overseen a transformation of fortunes at the Santiago Bernabeu since taking over from Rafael Benitez in January, with Madrid having a Champions League final against Atletico Madrid on the horizon after coming close to snatching the Liga title away from Barcelona.
Madrid head into Saturday’s European showpiece at San Siro on the back of a 12-game winning run in La Liga, and Bale says Zidane, a great of the game as a player with France, Juventus and then Los Blancos, has adopted the correct approach in his first senior coaching role.
“I think he’s come in and he’s kind of just given us that freedom to enjoy ourselves on the pitch,” said the Welshman on Tuesday.
“I think, as a player, you like to play that way and I think he’s instilled that confidence in the team that we can go out and express ourselves and I think that’s brought the best out of us.”
One of the two defeats Zidane has suffered to date in his 25-game reign came to Atletico at the Bernabeu in February.
Madrid have won just one of 10 local derbies since triumphing over their neighbours in the 2014 Champions League final, but Bale says the mood in the Bernabeu dressing room is positive.
“We know they’ve got a very good defensive record and they play very well in the defence. But we have to be patient, we have to pick our moments and when we do create the chances we need to take them,” he added.
“Everyone is feeling excited, happy and looking forward to a final and in a way [we] just can’t wait to get there and get it started. Every final is massive for us, especially the Champions League final.
“We know we can do it, and now we’ve just got to go out and prove that we can. So confidence is high and we know it’s going to be a very difficult game.”