Real Madrid v Villarreal preview: Zinedine Zidane praises positive response ahead of La Liga clash
Last Updated: 13/01/18 11:29am
Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane believes his players have responded positively to clear-the-air talks ahead of Saturday's La Liga clash with Villarreal.
Real reached the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey - where they will face Leganes - in midweek, but lie 16 points behind rivals Barcelona in the league.
"It's always about looking for positives," Zidane told a pre-match press conference. "I've seen a change in the team since our chat. Now we have to reflect that on the pitch.
"We're not struggling to find our play, we're just lacking the continuity we need to get our confidence back, and we can only find that by winning games.
"Winning is the most important thing and we've found it hard of late, but we'll keep going. We're still alive in every competition and having watched the games back, I don't agree with a lot of the criticism, but I have to accept it. There are still positive elements in this team.
"The difficult thing is to avoid reading and listening to what's being said. That's not at all easy in this day and age but you have to try. All that's being said about Real Madrid at the moment is negative, but I, and many others, don't share that view.
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"The situation is what it is, but we must look for positives; we're still alive in every competition. We're not in as bad a place as people say. We need to find that positive energy among the group and keep moving forward.
"I'm not worried about the (atmosphere at) Bernabeu. We want people to come and cheer us on, which is what they've always done. We can't focus all on the negative. We need our fans. Just as when we're playing well we need to keep our feet on the ground, when we're going through a tough spell we need them to help us out."
Villarreal are sixth in La Liga, just four points behind Real and Zidane added: "Our concentration will be at 100 per cent because we're up against very good opposition, who are having a fantastic season. They have not lost many games.
"We're going to try all we can to win the game. That's our goal and it's what we're preparing for. They know how to use the ball very well and they cover a lot of ground. They're a positive team and their results reflect that."
Karim Benzema has resumed training following injury but will not be rushed back into action.
Villarreal coach Javi Calleja will be without suspended defender Victor Ruiz for the trip to Madrid, while the likes of Bruno, Roberto Soriano and Andres Fernandez remain sidelined through injury.