Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said he was happy to match the all-time Spanish club record for unbeaten consecutive games in Saturday lunchtime’s 5-0 win over Granada, but that there was still work to do.
First half goals from Isco (two), Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo had Madrid in total control by half-time, with Casemiro adding to the scoreline after the break in a dominant performance.
The result sees Madrid remain in control of the La Liga title race, while they are now 39 games unbeaten in all competitions — matching the mark set last season by Barcelona and ended by Zidane’s side in the Clasico at the Camp Nou last April, but still behind Juventus’ all-time record of 43 from 2011-12.
The Los Blancos coach told his postmatch news conference that he was especially happy with his team’s high-tempo start to the game, but had already started thinking about their next challenge at Sevilla in the Copa del Rey on Thursday.
“It is a feeling of satisfaction for me, of course,” Zidane said. “We are very happy to be able to equal this record. But the most important is what we are doing, and must keep doing, to play well, technically to do well, lots of pressing. Then it is easier when you score early in the game, spaces open up. But we have another game in three days, we must go to Sevilla, and I know we will suffer again.”
Casemiro became the 20th player to score to Madrid this season when converting James Rodriguez’s free kick, and Zidane said he put special emphasis on ensuring all of his squad members felt important and valued.
“For me they are all important players and must all play,” he said. “There will be players who will play more, it is always like that. But when you have a group of 24 players, I want to let them know we will win by all being together.
“When you train all week, you must also have the chance to play. And having so many games, I can do it. When you have 13 players, like in my time [as a player], you cannot do that. Now I can change, and rotate, and ensure that all the players feel important.”
Madrid’s first goal against Granada came after his forward players put pressure on the opposition midfield and defence to regain possession, following a similar forcing of a mistake on the way to opening the scoring in the midweek 3-0 Copa del Rey victory over Sevilla.
Zidane said that a week of hard work on the players’ return from the winter break had helped to them to carry out such pressing of opponents high up the pitch.
“The first thing is the physical work we have put in,” he said. “We work very hard which is important. Having a week for a mini pre-season has been very good for us to start the year this way. Now we must just continue like this.”
Before Saturday’s game, 2016 Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo showed off his four trophies to the Bernabeu crowd, accompanied in person by Zidane and fellow former Blancos winners (Brazilian) Ronaldo, Luis Figo, Michael Owen, and Raymond Kopa, with Kaka and Fabio Cannavaro also supplying video messages.
“I’m happy for [Ronaldo] as it was very well deserved,” Zidane said. “To win four Ballon d’Ors is tremendous — we all had just one or two. But I am happy for him, he deserves it. It is always a bit strange to do things like that [ceremony] before the game. But in the end it went well.”