Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane has labelled his Manchester City counterpart Pep Guardiola as the best coach in the world.
Zidane and Guardiola will meet in the Champions League last 16 after Real Madrid were drawn against Manchester City.
“It will be special to go up against him. I played against him lots of times,” Zidane told the press, regarding Guardiola. “I respect him as a player and as a coach because I think he’s the best coach in the world.
“He’s proved that during his career and I’m looking forward to going up against him and facing his team.”
During Wednesday’s Clasico, Raphael Varane had two claims for a spot kick waved away by referee Alejandro Hernandez Hernandez while neither incident was overturned by VAR.
“In the end, the past is the past,” Zidane stated.
“VAR is important. It’s technology, it’s a plus for football, but it could certainly improve. Everyone wants to improve it and I’m sure it will. Everyone makes mistakes.
Los Blancos voiced their disdain with the officiating in El Clasico on their website, so will the club make an official complaint?
“No. What interests me is the match tomorrow [against Athletic Club].” Zidane said.
“The past is the past. The coaches, players and club are focused on the match tomorrow.
Athletic Club are the visitors to the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday as Real Madrid end 2020 at home.
“Another match, another difficult one,” Zidane said.
“[Athletic] have been doing phenomenally well since the start of the season but, as always, we’re focussing on ourselves and I think that we’re ready to play a good match.
“It’s the last game of the year and we have to give it our all.”
If Barcelona slip up against Alaves on Saturday, Los Blancos have the chance to go top of LaLiga Santander.
“The priority for us is the day to day. It’s LaLiga because it’s the day to day, but we’ll fight until the end,” Zidane said.
“The important thing is working every day and ultimately we’re working very well and we’re going to continue like this next year.”
Zidane seems to have turned Real Madrid around in recent weeks, so how long does he think he will coach for?
“It will depend on how I feel,” he said.
“I’m not your average coach. They said that a lot about me when I left [Real Madrid in 2018], but what interests me is the day to day as I’m with the people that work with me.
“I don’t think I’ll coach until I’m 60 or 70 years old.
“Am I a better coach than player? It’s different, I like coaching and I liked playing.
“I tell my players to enjoy themselves because it’s a bit s*** when it’s over.”
James Rodriguez hasn’t featured in recent weeks due to injury and Zidane gave an update on his fitness.
“He’s getting better every day, he’s had a bad injury,” he said about the Colombian.
“You will see the squad tomorrow, but we want to get James back, that’s clear. He’s in the process of recovery and we want to get him back.
After Ole Gunnar Solskjaer ruled out Manchester United selling Paul Pogba in January, do Real Madrid still need the Frenchman with Fede Valverde playing so well?
“I can talk to you about my players, that they’re doing well. Fede is an asset to this club and we’re happy that he’s with us,” Zidane said.