Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane says he does not expect continuing noise around the controversial late penalty decision against Juventus in the Champions League last week to have any effect on the refereeing in their upcoming semifinals against Bayern Munich.
The controversy over Michael Oliver’s decision to award the penalty to Cristiano Ronaldo that decided the tie, and the red card shown to Gianluigi Buffon for his protests, has continued to rumble on.
On Friday, Zidane said he was “indignant” about claims from those “jealous” of Madrid’s success, while in Munich there are those who recall how decisions went against them as they exited last year’s UCL at the Bernabeu.
He told a news conference ahead of Wednesday’s La Liga game at home to Athletic Bilbao that he doubted the officials appointed by UEFA would be influenced by all that had happened, while adding he wanted to now move on and focus on the football.
“We will do our job, and the referee will do his job,” Zidane said. “To talk about these things more is to beat about the bush. I will not do it any more. What we must do now is think about tomorrow’s game, and prepare the next one a week later. That is what most interests us now.”
After Sunday’s 3-0 win at Malaga, Zidane said the aim against Athletic was three points to challenge neighbours Atletico Madrid for second.
“The most important for us is to recover second place,” he said. “We have got up to third and we want to take this opportunity of playing at home tomorrow to get close to second place. And to do that playing well. [Athletic] will come here looking to get the points, we must be ready for what they are good at — second balls, crosses, these type of plays.”
Wednesday’s game should see Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale return to the starting XI having been rested against Malaga, while, if selected, Karim Benzema will be looking for his first goal in open play in over two months.
Zidane denied that Bale and Benzema are upset at no longer being automatic picks, while suggesting both needed to contribute more to start against Bayern.
“I do not see [Bale and Benzema] as feeling down, they are training well,” he said. “Both would like to be scoring more goals, but they are working well. It always happens in a team that other players are in better form, which is what we are seeing.
“There are very good players at this club, and I must always value that too. Benzema knows he has to score goals, as well as all the good work he does linking the play and assisting his teammates.”
Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan