Zidane defends Jovic snub, backs Odegaard to improve Madrid

By Ben Spratt 21 September 2020 32
Zidane defends Jovic snub, backs Odegaard to improve Madrid

Zinedine Zidane insists he does not have any issue with Luka Jovic despite deciding not to turn to the striker in Real Madrid's goalless draw at Real Sociedad.

Jovic has struggled at the Santiago Bernabeu since his arrival from Eintracht Frankfurt last year, scoring just twice in LaLiga last season.

The 22-year-old has been linked with a transfer in recent months but was named in the champions' matchday squad for their league opener at Sociedad.

However, even as Madrid struggled to break down their stubborn hosts, Zidane did not look to Jovic, instead handing debuts to Marvin Park and Sergio Arribas.

Zidane explained: "I have many players. Today I have chosen like this.

"I have nothing against Jovic, nor against any player. I did not want to change the picture and that's why I changed the wingers."

One young player who is now getting his chance under Zidane is Martin Odegaard, who was recalled after a season on loan with Sociedad.

Odegaard made his full league debut for Madrid in an advanced midfield role and Zidane saw cause for optimism.

"I'm happy with his debut," Zidane said. "He has no knee discomfort, which is the important thing.

"It is the first game and we have only had three weeks [of pre-season]. Little by little we will improve with Odegaard.

"We have to be calm with everyone. We missed the goal, but we have to be calm."

It was also a big day for experienced centre-back Raphael Varane, with Madrid in competitive action for the first time since his dismal display at Manchester City saw them eliminated from the Champions League in early August.

"What happened in Manchester can happen," Zidane said. "We know the players we have, and all the defenders today have done very well.

"We have only conceded one shot on target. This is the work of all the players, who defend very well. Now we are going to think about doing things better in attack."

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