Real Madrid coach Zidane defends Isco’s behaviour in Espanyol clash

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Madrid, March 2 (IANS) Real Madrid chief coach Zinedine Zidane on Friday defended the behavior of Spanish attacking midfielder Isco Alarcon, who took almost half a minute to leave the pitch when he was substituted in the away clash against Espanyol in the La Liga football championship earlier in the week.

Real Madrid went on to draw that game 1-1 following an injury-time comeback from the Barcelona-based club and are now gearing up for a home draw against 10th placed Getafe on Saturday evening, reports Efe.

“It’s normal that he was angry, he didn’t want to leave the pitch, no player does, but his attitude has always been spectacular,” Zidane told a press conference in Madrid.

“He trains well, he is a player loved by all and this is a problem that, for me, does not exist. We are all together on this, a player being angry is normal,” he added.

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Madrid trail La Liga leaders Barcelona by 15 points heading into the weekend fixtures, but Zidane was optimistic that the season was not yet over for them.

“You think that the league is over for us but football is like that and every league match is important. The title will go down to the wire and we’ll fight until the end. It’s difficult but not impossible. I’m an optimist until the end,” Zidane said.

“We’re angry about losing on Tuesday and I’m even more so after Barcelona’s draw yesterday (Thursday against Las Palmas). You have to be focused until the very last minute and we’re not giving in until the end. We had a run of five wins in a row, so you can’t always just focus on the bad results. We have to stick with what we’ve been doing well.”

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Real Madrid’s Marcelo Vieira and Jesus Vallejo on Friday took part in the club’s final training session before the match against Getafe, while Toni Kroos and Luka Modric were absent.

Brazilian Marcelo’s performance during the training session suggested that he got past the injury he sustained during the February 18 league match against Real Betis.

On the sideline, German midfielder Kroos continued the recovery process for a left knee injury, as did Croatia captain Modric, who has been struggling with a right leg muscle injury.

Zidane hoped that Kroos and Modric would be available for the second leg of the UEFA Champions League last-16 clash against Paris Saint Germain.

–IANS

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