Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane has to navigate difficult situations seemingly every week at the club, and he handles the pressure with grace. Los Blancos made it to the semifinals of the Champions League, and they are still in a position to win the league despite all the injuries that have occurred this season.
The latest situation Zidane’s had to deal with prior to a must-win match against Sevilla in La Liga? Laughter. Yes, seriously. Because Eden Hazard laughed with his former Chelsea teammates at Stamford Bridge after Real’s heartbreaking loss to Chelsea, more questions have been asked of the Real Madrid No. 7.
And, of course, a question was posed to Zidane at the press conference one day before the pivotal fixture vs. Sevilla.
Zidane handled the question with grace. Here’s the quote, via Madrid Xtra on Twitter:
“Hazard? He already apologised. I’m sure he didn’t want to offend anyone. He know what he has to do on the pitch. We have to focus on football now.”
Hazard did indeed apologize quickly the next day after the match, and he probably genuinely didn’t realize that at Real Madrid, getting caught laughing after match with the other team by the cameras does not go over well. And Hazard likely became a bigger target of frustrations due to his lack of production. Largely, this has been through no fault of his own due to injury, but he did fail to take on any responsibility on the pitch in a poor performance at Chelsea. That said, he was far from the worst player on Real Madrid in the loss either.
Zinedine Zidane has put the focus back on the game
Zidane’s response is so good, because he takes all the blame from Hazard. He points out Hazard took responsibility for his actions and that he did not intend to cause problems, which is rooted in Zidane’s own relationship with the player in the dressing room.
But it’s also brilliant because of the second half of the statement. He turns the focus to what actually matters, which is football. Real Madrid have an important set of games coming up and must win them all in order to take the league.
Hazard has to be a part of those winning efforts. Zidane very much does not take the responsibility away from Hazard. What he does instead is remind people that all that matters is football. His play has to do the talking. And he knows it. There is no sense in rehashing this to the press, because Zidane knows that Hazard knows.
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With that, Zidane succinctly and comprehensively answered a hot-button question in a way that puts water under the bridge. And if Hazard wants the water to stay at a safe level, he needs to respond in kind. On the field.