Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane hailed a “phenomenal” performance as his much-changed XI won 6-2 at Deportivo La Coruna on Wednesday evening, saying it was now more difficult for him to choose his lineup for the looming Champions League semifinals.
Sunday’s Clasico defeat made no difference to Zidane’s rotation policy, as he left Cristiano Ronaldo and Toni Kroos at home, and made nine changes to his lineup for a potentially tricky trip to Riazor.
The back-ups were ahead through Alvaro Morata on just 53 seconds, and overwhelmed their opponents to win with further goals from James Rodriguez (two), Lucas Vazquez, Isco and substitute Casemiro, while Depor played their part in the entertainment and had goals from Florin Andone and ex-Castilla youngster Joselu.
With Barcelona having earlier on Wednesday won 7-1 at home to Osasuna, the Catalans remain atop the La Liga table on head-to-head record, although the Bernabeu outfit have a game in hand on their rivals.
The Los Blancos coach told the postgame news conference that the tempo and attitude showed by his players had been particularly impressive.
“We must be happy with what we did,” Zidane said. “Not just the goals as we scored six, but the performance of them all. These are players who do not always play, and what they did today was phenomenal, in the rhythm, the seriousness they showed from the first moment. We had some moments of difficulty, but that is normal. I am very happy with how they all played.”
With Madrid’s usual starting XI not always performing with the same verve and energy, there will be calls from local pundits for some bigger names to be replaced for next week’s Champions League semifinal first leg at home to Atletico Madrid.
“There will always be a debate until the end,” Zidane accepted. “We have a game on Saturday, then comes Tuesday, then Saturday again. The good thing is we are all ready and all motivated. That is the difficulty I have, to tell someone who played like that they cannot play the next game.
“But it is like this and they understand the situation. For me there is not the A team and the B team. The others, those who play a lot, play well too. It’s not that they do badly. We are all together in the same boat. It will be like that until the end, then next year we will see.”
Zidane was happy to praise playmaker Isco, who was outstanding in an attacking midfield role, and capped his performance with a neatly taken second-half goal.
“Isco was phenomenal,” the Frenchman said. “He does things on the pitch that not everybody can. The [Depor] fans congratulated him, I am happy for him, for the work he does. When he has to play he always does his job.”
Speaking on BeIN Sports after the final whistle, Isco said the performance of those who had come in showed that Madrid had “the best squad in the world.”
“That is the greatness of a club like Madrid,” Isco said. “It is good to have 23 starters practically in the team, it is shown when there are changes to other lineups. That is important, whoever plays, it is not so different. Madrid’s squad is the best in the world. Today was a pretty complete game by the whole team, on collective and individual level, which was reflected on the scoreboard.”
The 25-year-old, out of contract in June 2018 and rumoured to be considering a move away from the club this summer, said he could not argue with local pundits who have called him a member of Madrid’s “second unit.”
“That is the truth,” Isco said. “We work very hard to take our chances when they come. All teams have their starting XIs and the others. The important thing is that when the others play they do very well too. I feel very comfortable alongside these players it is all much easier. I do my work, as I have done since my first day here. I am very happy with how it is all going.”