Zinedine Zidane has denied that a training ground spat with Marcelo led to the defender’s omission from Real Madrid’s 4-1 La Liga victory over Granada on Thursday.
Due to the absence of the Brazilian and the injury of first-choice Ferland Mendy, Miguel Gutierrez, a 19-year-old left-back, was handed his first start, and the youngster replied by setting up Luka Modric for the opening goal.
“Marcelo had some discomfort, and as always we didn’t want to take a risk,” Zidane said, when asked about claims — first reported by Goal.com — that an argument with the coach had led the player to be dropped.
Marcelo, one of the team’s captains, has been criticised for his form and fitness since losing his place in the Madrid starting XI to Mendy this season.
The 33-year-old started Real Madrid’s 2-2 draw with Sevilla FC on Sunday, a result that put their title hopes in doubt, but was substituted after 66 minutes in favour of Gutierrez, who was given the nod on Thursday.
“Marcelo’s discomfort is why he didn’t travel with us, that’s all,” Zidane insisted when pressed on the issue in his post-match news conference.
In a straightforward win over Granada, Rodrygo Goes, Alvaro Odriozola, and Karim Benzema also scored, leaving Madrid two points behind leaders Atletico Madrid at the top of the La Liga table.
“We’ll keep going. We have two games left. Until the end, until the last minute when the league is over, we’ll give everything, like today, and we’ll see,” Zidane said.
On Sunday, Real Madrid travels to Athletic Bilbao, while Atletico hosts Osasuna, before Madrid hosts Villarreal and Atletico travels to Valladolid on the season’s final weekend.
“The only thing we can do is keep putting pressure on Atleti and hope that they don’t win one of their two games,” goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois said. “We have to show that we’re there to win, that we’re close, and that they have no margin for error.”
“I didn’t see the [Atletico] game,” Courtois said. “Everyone does their own thing, they won, so they’ll feel strong. All you can do is look at yourself, we have a difficult game on Sunday in Bilbao, and then after our game we’ll look at their result.”