Zinedine Zidane insisted the only focus for Real Madrid should be their pivotal LaLiga finale against Villarreal, rather than his future at the club.
Los Blancos remain in the hunt to retain their league title thanks to a 1-0 win away at Athletic Bilbao on Sunday, defender Nacho Fernandez the unlikely hero with the only goal of the game.
It appeared at one stage as if the reigning champions would be in pole position with one more round of fixtures to play, only for Atletico Madrid to produce an impressive comeback at home against Osasuna.
A late Luis Suarez winner at the Wanda Metropolitano has Diego Simeone’s side two points ahead of their city rivals in the table.
Reports in the Spanish media on the day of the Athletic game said Zidane had informed the Madrid squad he will be leaving at the end of the campaign, but the Frenchman refused to be drawn on his situation.
“How am I going to tell my players that I am leaving now, when we are putting everything on the line?” Zidane said in his post-match press conference.
“When you say things from the outside, you can say whatever you want. I am not ever going to say that to my players.
“At the end of the season we will see, but now I am in this and am focused on the last match.
“We cannot talk constantly about my future; the most important thing is the last match that we have to play.”
7 – Real Madrid have won all LaLiga games when Nacho Fernández has scored at least one goal (seven games – eight goals on aggregate). Amulet. pic.twitter.com/vLcNRwH4SY
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) May 16, 2021
Zidane opted to retain the same forward line that started the 4-1 win over Granada on Thursday, meaning Eden Hazard once again had to settle for a place on the bench.
The Belgium international was introduced in the 77th minute in place of Rodrygo, with Zidane insisting it was simply a selection call made by himself, rather than any particular issue.
“Nothing has happened with Hazard, it is just that others are playing at the moment,” he said.
“I have to choose the 11 and nothing more. He is contributing like everyone else.”
While Madrid host Villarreal in the Spanish capital next Sunday, Atletico have a trip to relegation-threatened Real Valladolid.
Zidane’s side are on a 17-game unbeaten run in LaLiga, their best streak in a single campaign during his two stints in charge.
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