Zinedine Zidane is on the cusp of leading Real Madrid to a 34th LaLiga title, but the head coach continues to be plagued by the question of whether his team are anything special.

Two wins from their remaining three games over the coming week would be enough to clinch another Spanish league success, with Granada first up on Monday evening.

Madrid have been ruthless since the resumption, winning all eight games and conceding just two goals over that stretch.

It has meant previous leaders Barcelona, themselves also unbeaten over the past month, have seen a two-point advantage slip away due to three draws in their nine games.

But debate rages over the merits of this Madrid team, who arguably lack the panache of previous Los Blancos sides but have shown themselves to be a winning machine, unlike some of their more celebrated forebears.

"It doesn't bother me or surprise me, it's always the same debate," Zidane told a news conference on Sunday.

"We prove in every game and every training session that we are good. We have to show it. Everyone will give their opinion on what they think of Real Madrid because it is the most important club in history and this will never change."

Zidane, once the unpredictable flair player in Madrid's midfield, has become the straight man of the media room, a serious figure and a coach who has brought the best out of many of his players.

Rather than consider the prospect of another championship, with Villarreal on Thursday and Leganes on Sunday the other remaining games for Madrid, Zidane's focus does not deviate from the immediate task at hand.

"LaLiga and the Champions League are the goal and what we fight for, but it is useless if we look beyond tomorrow's game," he said.

"This is the last week and there are three games. It is the most difficult, but the most important. All the teams have things to play for and we want to put all our energy into tomorrow's game."

Zidane clearly finds the suggestion his team have had the better of VAR decisions over recent weeks to be thoroughly tedious, amid claims Barcelona have had a relatively raw deal.

"Everyone can give their opinion, I don't mess with the opinions of others," he said, when asked about the VAR talk.

"What we are doing is giving everything on the pitch and putting in a great effort every day. That is what I'm interested in."

Zinedine Zidane is unsure if James Rodriguez will play for Real Madrid ever again.

James, 28, has been linked with a move away from Madrid and was left out of the squad for Friday's 2-0 LaLiga win over Deportivo Alaves.

It marked the second straight game in which the Colombia international has not been in the squad.

Asked if James would play for Madrid again, Zidane told a news conference: "I don't know."

James arrived at Madrid from Monaco in 2014, but spent the previous two seasons on loan at Bayern Munich.

He has played just 14 games this campaign, scoring one goal.

Zinedine Zidane praised the "phenomenal" Thibaut Courtois after Real Madrid took another step towards the LaLiga title with a win over Deportivo Alaves.

Madrid kept a clean sheet for the fifth straight game, recording a 2-0 win on Friday to move four points clear of rivals Barcelona with three games remaining.

Zidane lauded Courtois, who made four saves in Madrid's win as Karim Benzema netted a penalty before Marco Asensio's second-half goal.

"He has a very big influence. He is our goalkeeper, what he is doing every game is phenomenal," Madrid coach Zidane told a news conference, via AS.

"It is a matter for everyone when it comes to defending … today, he [Courtois] has been good for us with two or three stops, and then the strength of the entire team.

"We have to continue like this."

Madrid scored a penalty for the third straight game, while the VAR was needed to award Asensio's goal after it was initially ruled out due to an offside decision against Benzema.

As another clean sheet helped Madrid, Zidane said he was happy with his team, who are away to Granada on Monday.

"I'm not worried because the important thing is to win matches," he said.

"We didn't score four or five goals, but because there is an opponent who defends. We scored two goals, one very beautiful in play.

"I am happy and calm with what we are doing."

Vinicius Junior has been included in Real Madrid's squad to face Deportivo Alaves on Friday.

The Brazilian winger has been in outstanding form for the LaLiga leaders since the season's restart, but his involvement in their next match was in doubt.

Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane revealed on Thursday that Vinicius had missed training to take a coronavirus test.

An initial test "went badly" - seemingly returning an anomalous result - and had to be repeated, Zidane said.

Madrid offered no update on Vinicius but named the 19-year-old among their 22-man group for the meeting with Alaves.

Zidane's side are a point ahead of Barcelona, who have played a game more.

Massimiliano Allegri says he had contact with Real Madrid over becoming their head coach two years ago, but wanted to stay loyal to Juventus.

The former Milan boss spent five successful years in charge of Juve prior to his exit at the end of last season.

After Zinedine Zidane left Madrid following the 2017-18 campaign, the club had short spells with Julen Lopetegui and Santiago Solari in charge.

Allegri was one of the other options pursued by the club and the Italian thanked Madrid president Florentino Perez for his interest at the time.

Madrid ultimately turned back to Zidane in March 2019.

"Two years ago, there was contact, but nothing came of it because I had a contract with Juve," Allegri said to Marca about Madrid's interest.

"Furthermore, I had a strong moral commitment to the club and its fans."

Allegri was asked what he likes most about the work Zidane is doing at Santiago Bernabeu, with a LaLiga title on the horizon as the delayed 2019-20 season nears its conclusion.

"The strength he has had in finding the indispensable balance of a team so full of class and talent," Allegri said.

"For me, the positioning of Casemiro has been a tactical masterclass from Zizou."

Discussing his own future, Allegri continued: "I've been charging my batteries [since leaving Juve] and enjoying time with my family and my city, Livorno, with my lifelong friends.

"I don't really care [if my next job is in Italy or abroad]. I'm looking for a club to share a project with and which has the ambition to compete to win."

And when questioned over whether he would like to coach in LaLiga, Allegri added: "Who in their right mind would say no to this question? No one.

"There is more pleasure of playing in LaLiga, no matter the result. After conceding a goal, the team keeps playing as if nothing has happened. 

"In Italy, on the other hand, there is much more love and attention for the details of the game and tactics. The brain almost always wins out over the heart, in general.

"[Italian football is more difficult] because of what I said before. The player doesn't have much freedom to enjoy themselves in a purely instinctive way and this sometimes makes it difficult."

Zinedine Zidane feels his Real Madrid players deserve more respect as he is "tired" of their victories being attributed to refereeing decisions.

Madrid celebrated a seventh straight win on Sunday as they prevailed 1-0 at Athletic Bilbao, moving seven points clear of rivals Barcelona at the top of LaLiga.

However, their goal came courtesy of a Sergio Ramos penalty, awarded only after a VAR review highlighted Dani Garcia's trip on Marcelo.

Iker Muniain revealed his frustration at the call after the match, echoing comments from Barca's Gerard Pique, who suggested the officials were making it difficult to stop Madrid winning the title.

Zidane bristled at the accusations, though, telling a news conference: "I am tired of being told that we won because of the referees.

"This is not going to change. But the players deserve respect. Nothing is going to take away from our goal."

The head coach accepted Madrid were not at their best at San Mames, yet he pointed to a tough schedule which saw the leaders in action against Getafe as recently as Thursday.

"Our strength is what I like the most. We are showing our strength and our balance when we lose the ball," Zidane said. "We are doing very well.

"We have lacked brilliance in attack and we can improve, but most important is our defensive strength.

"[The problems in attack are due to] a little bit of everything. It can be something physical, too. We play every three days.

"But I don't think it is our own thing; I think it is something for all the teams. There is a lot of difference between the beginning and the end."

Talk is turning towards when Madrid might clinch the title, with just four games to play and Barca struggling for form.

But Zidane is not getting ahead of himself, adding: "Until it is mathematically won, we cannot relax and think about the title.

"We have shown our strength and our solidity, but I am not going to talk about it, even if you ask me every day, because I already have a lot of experience in my career, also as a player, and all the games are difficult.

"What I can say is that winning seven games out of seven is impressive."

Zinedine Zidane insists Real Madrid are not prematurely celebrating despite taking significant steps towards LaLiga glory in recent weeks.

Barcelona have drawn three of their past four matches, with Madrid winning all of their games across the same period to open up a four-point advantage at the summit.

The Clasico rivals each have 15 points to play for, meaning Barca require a huge swing in the remaining matches, with their derby at home to Espanyol and Madrid's trip to Athletic Bilbao next on the agenda.

Los Blancos last won the title in 2016-17, during Zidane's previous spell in charge, and the head coach is taking nothing for granted.

"The players know that it is a complicated, difficult, long competition, and that those who did it before show that they want to go for everything," he said.

"There is no euphoria here because we have not won anything.

"There is work and commitment to do it well and try to win matches."

Sergio Ramos was Madrid's match-winner against Getafe last time out and he is set to be joined at centre-back by Eder Militao at San Mames.

Raphael Varane was struck in the face by the ball during Thursday's match and was substituted, with the France international suffering from neck pain and unable to recover in time for a place in this weekend's squad.

"He has just arrived, he is working to reach the level of Rafa and Sergio," Zidane said of the 22-year-old former Porto defender Militao.

"Tomorrow he will have to play and I am happy for Mili because he is a player for the present and the future."

Seven of Militao's 12 LaLiga appearances so far this season have been starts, while his fellow Brazilian Rodrygo has only made Zidane's first XI once since the restart and last scored in October.

Nevertheless, the teenage forward produced a lively cameo last time out, asking questions of Getafe before Ramos' 79th-minute penalty.

"He is a player who is changing little by little, working hard," Zidane added.

"He is a charming boy, he is well, and in the end we will take advantage of his qualities."

Eden Hazard will sit out Real Madrid's LaLiga match with Athletic Bilbao as he is not fully fit, head coach Zinedine Zidane said on Saturday. 

The Belgium international sustained a heavy knock in the 1-0 win over Espanyol and missed the victory against Getafe on Thursday. 

Madrid could stretch their lead over Barcelona at the top of LaLiga to seven points if they win at Athletic on Sunday before the Catalans face Villarreal, but Zidane is not prepared to take any unnecessary risks with Hazard that could jeopardise his chances of finishing the season. 

"Eden's having a hard time these days and we don't want to risk anything, and he's the first [to agree]," Zidane said. "Hopefully, it's a small thing and we can see him again before the end of the league [season]. 

"He's been away for three or four days and I hope he'll get over it quickly. It's day to day; we don't know anything more than it's a strong blow. There are those who know, the doctors and the medics... they are very competent people. It was a blow against Espanyol and it's a matter of days." 

Hazard's first season at Madrid since a €100million move from Chelsea has been blighted by injuries, with the 29-year-old having only started 13 league games in 2019-20. 

"The Hazard thing is the sort of thing we don't want to happen, that's the worst thing for me," Zidane said. "It's not just me, there's a lot of people here to help the player. 

"For Eden, it's his first year and he wants to help the team. And when he can't do that, he's not happy. 

"I don't think he's afraid [of injuries]; what he wants is to be good enough to play. If he doesn't look 100 per cent, it's a problem for him and for everyone, because we love him to the max. 

"What I hope is that we'll soon get out of it." 

Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane wants Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi to remain in LaLiga amid speculation of a possible departure.

Messi, 33, is contracted to Barca until 2021 but a report emerged on Thursday, claiming the six-time Ballon d'Or winner is considering an exit.

According to Cadena SER, Messi has halted contract negotiations due to his frustrations with Barca – who are on track to be dethroned by bitter rivals Madrid this season.

Zidane was asked about the rumours regarding Messi after Madrid moved four points clear of two-time defending champions Barca thanks to Thursday's 1-0 win over Getafe.

"I don't know what will happen but we hope not because he is in this league and we want the best in this league," Zidane said post-match.

Sergio Ramos was the hero for Madrid against Getafe, scoring the only goal from the penalty spot in the 79th minute at the Alfredo di Stefano Stadium.

The victory was Madrid's sixth in a row as Los Blancos extended their advantage over stuttering Barca with five matches remaining in LaLiga.

Zidane hailed captain Ramos, who took his LaLiga tally to nine goals in 2019-20 following his 450th league appearance for Madrid.

"Our captain is our leader on the field, but also outside," Zidane said of the Spain skipper, who took his career total to 100 goals.

"He is an unrepeatable player. He is unique and we know what he transmits to everyone else. I'm happy for him for his goal because when it comes to shooting a penalty, he has a lot of confidence. 

"It's almost in the 80th minute and Dani Carvajal's effort in goal is from the whole team. We know that with patience and tranquillity we can score goals. This is what happened.

"The last 20 minutes with freshness we claimed a very important result. We have to congratulate all the players because what we are doing is not easy."

Zidane also provided an update on star centre-back Raphael Varane, who took a blow to the head and had to be replaced in the first half.

"Right now he's not right because it's a blow to the neck," Zidane added. "He has gone home and the doctor is going to see him and we will see from tomorrow [Friday]. 

"We are not going to risk anything. It was a strong blow and tomorrow we will see exactly what he has."

Zinedine Zidane insisted Real Madrid have not won anything after moving four points clear of Barcelona in the LaLiga title race with a hard-fought win over Getafe.

Sergio Ramos was the hero, scoring the only goal from the penalty spot in the 79th minute as leaders Madrid defeated Getafe 1-0 on Thursday.

After full-back Dani Carvajal was upended by Getafe's Mathias Olivera, Madrid captain Ramos coolly converted the spot-kick with 11 minutes remaining at the Alfredo di Stefano Stadium.

The victory was Madrid's sixth in a row as Los Blancos extended their advantage over stuttering defending champions Barca with five matches remaining.

But Madrid head coach Zidane refused to look too far ahead post-match.

"There are three more points," Zidane told Movistar. "They are three very important points.

"We had to win yes but nothing more. For us nothing changes. We have five finals left.

"We have not won anything. I know what this is like and until this is over, we cannot say anything.

"We have to keep working. We are happy, proud of the team ... the effort, the solidity that we show, is very good.

"This is football, football every three days is a new story. Today we suffered a lot, the other day against Espanyol too.

"We played against the bottom team, but they always make it difficult for you. Without suffering you cannot achieve anything."

Zidane, whose Madrid travel to Athletic Bilbao on Sunday, added: "We knew that we would suffer a lot. They pressed very high, it has cost us a little, but it is normal.

"I think that with patience it was known that the goal could be reached. It is what we did, have peace of mind, because these are key moments You have to congratulate the players because it has not been easy, physically or mentally."

Achraf Hakimi has joined Inter in a permanent move from Real Madrid, the Italian club confirmed.

Hakimi, 21, has reportedly cost Antonio Conte's side an initial €40million and he joins on a five-year contract.

A statement issued by Madrid read: "The club wants to thank Achraf for all these years of dedication, professionalism and exemplary behaviour since he came to our academy in 2006 and wishes him good luck in his new phase."

The Spain-born Morocco international has spent the past two seasons on loan at Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund, particularly impressing this term when deployed as a right-sided wing-back ahead of a three-man defence.

On top of an impressive haul of five goals, Hakimi also had 10 assists in the Bundesliga this term – the best of any defender.

Dortmund were not shy about their desire to see Hakimi remain at Signal Iduna Park, but the writing appeared to be on the wall when BVB confirmed the capture of Thomas Meunier on a free transfer from Paris Saint-Germain following reports of Inter closing in on their target.

Hakimi had been at Madrid since 2006 and broke into the first-team squad in 2017-18, playing back-up to Dani Carvajal.

He was sent out on a two-year loan to Dortmund and, although he enjoyed a wonderful 2019-20 in Germany, there are those who are unconvinced by his defensive qualities, particularly in a back four.

Similarly, Hakimi's contract with Madrid was due to expire in 2021, and a potential unease at being behind Carvajal in the pecking order again could have given rise to the possibility of losing him for free next year.

Their loss is Inter's gain, however, as Conte finally gets his hands on a world-class wing-back, having had Ashley Young, Victor Moses, Antonio Candreva, Cristiano Biraghi and Kwadwo Asamoah as his options in 2019-20.

Eden Hazard will soon be firing on all cylinders for Real Madrid but Zinedine Zidane has warned he will remain a target for opposing players.

The former Chelsea star has not had the expected impact since arriving in the Spanish capital in June last year.

Having dazzled at Stamford Bridge, the Belgian's maiden campaign in LaLiga has been disrupted by injury and he underwent ankle surgery in March.

Since the return from the coronavirus-enforced break, Hazard has been substituted in all four games he has played in, but he has also continued to be met with some rough treatment, drawing regular fouls.

Madrid coach Zidane, who has guided his side to the top of LaLiga ahead of Thursday's visit of Getafe, sees nothing sinister in the way opponents deal with Hazard but says he can expect more of the same as the 29-year-old seeks to rediscover his fitness and best form.

"He's very good and the opponents know it," Zidane said when asked about the number of fouls committed against Hazard. 

"But there's no intention of hurting any player.

"We have to be calm with Eden. He's been off the pitch for a long time and you have to go easy on him.

"He'll be fine in a little while."

Another player in the Madrid ranks not having quite the season he will have hoped for is James Rodriguez.

The Colombia international has spoken freely of his frustration at not getting enough playing time at the Santiago Bernabeu, and Zidane understands how he feels.

"James is telling the truth," said the Frenchman. "He wants to play more and that's normal. I understand that.

"But we're going to go until the end like this."

Zinedine Zidane is adamant the title race is far from over in LaLiga, insisting Real Madrid "have won absolutely nothing" yet despite Barcelona's recent wobble.

Leaders Madrid hold a one-point lead over their rivals and also have a game in hand – they host Getafe on Thursday aiming to make it six successive wins since the 2019-20 season resumed in Spain.

In contrast, Barca have struggled for consistency in recent weeks. The reigning champions drew for a third time in four outings on Tuesday, twice pegged back by Atletico Madrid at Camp Nou.

Having picked up four points in the two Clasico contests during the campaign, giving them the added buffer of the head-to-head advantage, Los Blancos are now firm favourites to finish on top.

Zidane, however, is refusing to take anything for granted.

"We haven't won anything [yet]," the Madrid boss told the media on Wednesday. "We have six games. Eighteen points.

"Until we are mathematically champions, we have to keep going, our rivals are going to do everything they can to win their games.

"No confidence and no saying, 'this is over'.

"I've experienced this situation as a player. We have won absolutely nothing."

A goal from Casemiro was enough for Zidane's side to overcome struggling Espanyol 1-0 at the weekend, boosting their bid to win the league for the first time since 2017.

With neighbours Atletico helping them out by holding Barca, Madrid have the opportunity to move four points clear at the summit when they face fifth-placed Getafe.

"I'm very happy and proud of the players," Zidane added. "But we have six 'finals' left and one is tomorrow.

"We have to think about trying our best to win. We're good, but this doesn't mean anything."

Zinedine Zidane believes Karim Benzema's incredible assist in Real Madrid's win over Espanyol may be one of the plays of the season.

Benzema produced a moment of magic to set up Casemiro in Madrid's 1-0 victory that sent them two points clear atop LaLiga on Sunday.

The forward's outrageous backheel through the legs of defender Bernardo Espinosa gave Casemiro a simple finish.

Madrid head coach Zidane was unsurprised and believes Benzema's skill could go down as one of the best moments of the campaign.

"It doesn't surprise me. He is a player who invents things," he said, via AS.

"And then Casemiro is there. It can be one of the plays of the championship."

The goal lifted Madrid two points clear of rivals Barcelona with six games remaining in the LaLiga season.

Zidane said he expected the title race to go down to the final day of the campaign.

"Six games are missing and this will be decided on the last day. You have to fight in every game," he said.

"Today the second played against the last. You never know in this league."

Madrid are next in action against Getafe on Thursday.

Zinedine Zidane has cast a little uncertainty over his long-term future at Real Madrid, as he suggested the demands of management will lead to an early retirement.

Zidane has had a significant impact on Los Blancos, first during a five-year stint as a player and now as coach, with the Frenchman in his second spell at the helm.

During his first he led the club to an historic three successive Champions League successes, and although he left soon after the third, he returned last year following the ill-fated tenures of Julen Lopetegui and Santiago Solari.

He has Los Blancos back on track this term as they sit top of LaLiga, ahead of Barcelona by virtue of a better head-to-head record with seven matches to go.

But rarely has the possibility of a long coaching career been associated with Zidane, who, even when unemployed between his two Madrid spells was only ever closely linked with the France job.

And ahead of facing rock-bottom Espanyol, who sacked their coach Abelardo earlier in the day, Zidane brought up the subject of his future when asked about Sergio Ramos.

When asked if he thought Ramos would become a club icon when he played alongside the centre-back, Zidane said: "It was clear that he could achieve what he is achieving, because he already had quality and above all personality.

"He always wanted to win and make history in this club. I am not surprised by what Sergio is doing. We are lucky to have him in Madrid and I hope that continues until the end of his career. I am not going to coach another 20 years, I am going to retire sooner. Anything can happen."

He added: "I was a better footballer than a coach, but there were better footballers than me as well, although I'm happy with what I've done.

"I'm not going to coach for 20 years, I don't know how many. I don't plan anything, what encourages me is the day-to-day. Then I will do other things.

"In my head I have always been a footballer, I had 18 or 19 years as a player and when I was asked if I was going to coach, I would say no. In the end I was, but it's demanding – I don't think I'll be here for another 20 years."

But he was eager to assure fans that he is in no rush to leave, adamant he is still happy.

"No one should interpret what I say," he continued. "The reality is I'm managing the best club in the world and I'm happy, regardless of what happens here.

"But I know that when we lose the press will be out, the knives will be out, that won't change. We are winning now, but like I said, today we've yet to win the title. We must continue working, training hard.

"Everyone is going in same direction. We cannot control external matters, only what we can control. We shouldn't worry about what goes on outside Real Madrid and I think my future is the least of concerns at the moment."

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