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Zidane brushes aside Pique´s Champions League jibe

Zinedine Zidane refused to be drawn into a war of words with Gerard Pique after the Barcelona defender aimed a jibe at the quality of their Champions League victory last season.

Madrid became 11-time champions of Europe by beating LaLiga and city rivals Atletico Madrid in a penalty shootout in May’s final in Milan.

However, when asked about Madrid’s triumph on Twitter, Pique – who has a well-documented history of stoking the flames of the Clasico rivalry – responded: “An easy group. In the last 16, Italy’s third [placed team]. In the quarters, Germany’s eighth [placed team]. In the semis, England’s fourth [placed team]. Return leg at home.”

But Madrid head coach Zidane laughed off Pique’s post.

“He has his view, his opinion,” he said. “We won the Champions League, we battled hard, it was tough.

“Over the course of a Champions League it’s very demanding. He said they won the league and are the best team in Spain. If you win the league you have got the right to say that.

“It’s a new season. It’s not just Barca and Madrid, there are lots of teams in the hunt. We will prepare well and hopefully this year it will change.”

Zidane also confirmed that midfielder Isco would sit out Saturday’s LaLiga contest against Celta Vigo at the Santiago Bernabeu with an ankle injury.

“Yes, it’s an ankle injury,” he added. “Isco twisted his ankle last week and he’s not fit enough to be part of the squad. His ankle is causing him trouble.”

The Frenchman also praised Alvaro Morata’s performance up front in the absence of Karim Benzema and has challenged the Spain star to add to his good work by scoring against Celta.

“I’m very happy with how he’s [Morata] working,” he said. “Physically he’s in good shape, he’s working hard.

“He runs hard, plays hard and works hard without the ball. Saturday will be no different, I want to see the same from Morata and hopefully he can score too.”

Fri 26 Aug, 2016
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